Police call for more officers to deter crime

Netanya has one of the lowest ratios of police to citizens of any city in Israel, and it is no wonder that many Netanya residents feel unsafe in the streets, reports www.local.co.il. Netanya police say that their small numbers are insufficient to deter criminals and to provide residents with a feeling of safety. According to the report, Israel as a whole has a relatively low ratio of police to residents, with 2.65 police for every 1,000 citizens, compared with 5.65 police for every 1,000 citizens in the Czech Republic, 5.0 in Italy, 3.99 in Belgium, 3.77 in Germany, 3.73 in England, 3.53 in Ireland and 3.4 in France. And the report said that Netanya, the largest jurisdiction in the Sharon area, has just half the already low national ratio, with only 1.3 police for every 1,000 residents in the city. A senior local police source said that while a total of about 230 police were stationed in Netanya, in practice only about 130 police were working at any one time because of shifts, and that even if they put "200 percent" into their work and ran the most efficient station in the district, "the physical amount of police and the number of mobile units at our disposal make it very difficult to create a deterrent." The source blamed the government for the problem, saying it was recruiting insufficient numbers of police, paying salaries too low to attract good recruits, and imposing increasing burdens on local authorities. The report said the Netanya city council is expected to discuss a plan at its next meeting to create a municipal force using former soldiers who have completed their military service in combat units, who would patrol the city in nine mobile units. Although the former soldiers would not have the authority to arrest offenders, they would be able to "detain or photograph them" and provide a deterrent. The patrol would be paid for by an extra charge of NIS 10 per month on every household in the city. But the report said many residents were already complaining that it was unfair that they should have to pay extra for such a service. The report said that despite the low numbers of police, there had been a 70 percent decrease in the number of incidents of violence and vandalism at a number of public sites in Netanya where security cameras were operating. Seventeen such cameras are currently operating in the city, out of 21 that were installed. A municipal spokesman said the four that were not working were located at the Sportek center and were the subject of a dispute with the owners of the complex. The spokesman said that if the council approved the plan for the municipal patrol, some of the money raised would go toward expanding the security camera system.