Police volunteer to appeal dismissal for stopping finance minister's car

Officials blame him for informing the media.

Ronnie Bar On 88 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Ronnie Bar On 88 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A traffic police volunteer has vowed to appeal his dismissal, which was issued after he pulled over Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On and gave the minister's chauffeur a ticket for illegally driving down the shoulder last week. On Thursday, the volunteer, Avidan Kalpa, saw a vehicle with a blue light making its way along the shoulder on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway. "I realized this was a senior personality, probably a minister," Kalpa told The Jerusalem Post. The car was illegally using the shoulder to circumvent an extensive traffic jam that had built up due to an accident. Without hesitating, Kalpa drove up alongside the vehicle in his own unmarked car and pulled it over. "A security guard came out and told me [Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On] was in the car. He asked that they be allowed to continue immediately. I refused - the minister is a civilian like everyone else, and is not allowed to use the shoulder," Kalpa recalled. After issuing a ticket to the driver, Bar-On "reacted furiously. He said I was deliberately stalling him. I told him I was just doing my job," Kalpa said. "I suddenly received a call from Channel 2's crime correspondent Moshe Nussbaum. I happen to be a reporter for the local Beit Shemesh newspaper and I have contacts with senior correspondents. I told Moshe, 'I can't speak right now, I'm issuing a ticket to the finance minister.'" Within an hour, the news was broadcast on TV bulletins. Within 72 hours, Kalpa had been dismissed, after a short hearing. "I may have made a mistake telling Nussbaum that I pulled over Bar-On," Kalpa concedes. "But the fact that I was dismissed so quickly was only due to the police's desire to satisfy the minister. It's easier to make me, the small guy who enforces the law, the fall guy. The police came under pressure and dismissed me," Kalpa said. "I don't plan on taking this lying down," he vowed. "I have already appealed the decision, and the Movement for Quality Government in Israel has shown interest in this case," he added. "I will fight to return to the ranks of police volunteers." Speaking on Israel Radio, Kalpa said: "After years of faithful work, the police turned around and stabbed me in the back." But traffic police spokesman Doron Ben Amo dismissed the idea that Kalpa was sacked for pulling over a minister. "This volunteer was fired because he gave away inside information to the press," he said. "He acted in an excellent, professional manner when he pulled over the minister, and we are very happy with that aspect of his conduct. His dismissal has nothing to do with that," Ben Amo said. "The issue is that he gave information to a journalist, which was reported in the press after minutes. And the press storm which continues merely reinforces our decision that he will not return to be a police volunteer," he added. Some 10,000 volunteers assist the traffic police in their daily tasks on the nation's roads. They are armed and have all of the authority that a full-time police officer has, Ben Amo said. "We can't work without them. We very much respect them and we view them as police officers. There may be a few blunders here and there, but in general, they're doing a great job."