Analysis: A plan long overdue

Researcher points to dire need for community policing, but opposes complete subordination to mayors.

Israel police logo 88 (photo credit: )
Israel police logo 88
(photo credit: )
Few great reforms have been carried out in history without encountering resistance, and plans to establish city police forces answerable to mayors are no exception, according to Dep.-Cmdr. (ret.) Danny Gimshi, head of the Community Safety Research Institute at Rishon Lezion's College of Management Academic Studies. Gimshi, a former senior police officer, helped pioneer Israeli community policing, and says plans to create city-specific policing in Israel are long overdue. "If there is no resistance, there is no real change," he told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. Senior police officers will be opposed to the plan because "police brass will lose some of their their power bases, and a number of jobs will be in danger." It is not only police brass who feel threatened by the new scheme, Gimshi warned. Poorer city councils will join the opposition ranks, too, since municipalities will be the ones to pay for their police forces. "Mayors of economically stable cities will be very supportive, but I expect problems in economically weaker places," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised if some mayors also felt uncomfortable with the idea of taking on the challenge of being responsible for the personal security of their residents," Gimshi added. Gimshi acknowledged the threat of corruption on local authority levels creeping into police, but said, "You don't throw out the baby with the bath water. It is possible to create a monitoring apparatus to oversee this development." He added that "the state of personal security in Israel is so poor, and the Israel Police cannot meet the challenge alone." Gimshi stressed that he was against the idea of making city police forces completely subordinate to mayors, adding that the ideal model would see local officers sent to patrol the streets and deal exclusively with personal security. "They should not be carrying out interrogations, intelligence work, or forensics. They should be on the beat, on the streets, making arrests where needed," he said. Currently, Israel is on one end of a continuum of police models, under which there is a single national police force for the entire country. On the other end lies American law enforcement, composed of city and state police forces, but lacking any federal police. In the UK, 51 percent of the police force is managed by the Home Office, while the remaining 49% is subject to police committees, which are overseen by local authorities. In France, there are a number of national police forces, working alongside local police forces in small cities, while in Germany, a federal police has national jurisdiction, but is also subordinate to local authorities.