Meet Israel's most elite Arab Muslim cop

Jamal Hakrush, the first Muslim policeman to reach the rank of lieutenant-commander, is about to take on the challenges of the Traffic Police.

Jamal Hakrush 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Jamal Hakrush 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
For Jamal Hakrush, the first Arab Muslim police officer to reach the high rank of lieutenant-commander, his promotion is proof positive that skills and proven success are the decisive factors in climbing the police’s ranks.
“This has nothing to do with my background,” Hakrush – who resides in the Galilee village of Kafr Kana, home to 18,000 people – tells The Jerusalem Post at Coastal Police headquarters in Haifa.
At the beginning of next month, Hakrush will be appointed deputy head of the Traffic Police and end his current term as the Coastal District’s deputy commander.
“It is evidence to all others who aspire for promotion. Invest [in your work] if you want to be promoted. When someone demands an advance in their position, they must be armed with a weapon called prior success,” he says.
INDEED, TO use Hakrush’s own terms, he is “armed” to the teeth. Joining the police in 1978 as a patrol officer after completing his BA in political science at Haifa University, Hakrush has carried out almost every conceivable role in the force.
He served as a patrol commander in the Haifa and Zevulun police stations before taking command of stations in Afula and Nahariya. He then went on to found the Immigration Police’s northern branch in 2000.
Next, he was appointed deputy commander of the Coastal Police sub-district – which has since become a full national police district.
“I gained my experience in the most natural of ways,” Hakrush says.
Asked what he thinks of the lack of trust that many members of the Arab community feel toward the police, he replies, “A lack of trust is a feeling that is held by many. It is not my intention to analyze a feeling. It is my hope that they [the young people] invest in their future.”
In his home village, he adds, he has always been honored by his neighbors.
Hakrush is leaving behind a Coastal District that he says saw around a 30-percent drop in violent crime this past year, as well as a 30% drop in property crimes.
“The situation is good, but there is much work left to be done,” he notes. “Residents will continue to enjoy the police’s service. When I say service, I mean pursuing the war on crime. It’s important also not to ignore the minor issues, like noise pollution. We don’t want to neglect anything, and we are prepared for any request from members of the public.”
LOOKING AHEAD to his next post as deputy commander of the Traffic Police – which he will assume on July 4 – Hakrush acknowledges that here, too, he has much work to do, as the carnage on the roads continues on a daily basis.
While he emphasizes that “I haven’t entered the new post yet, so my observations are those of a civilian,” he asserts that “we must get it in our heads that a dangerous driver is not any different from a violent criminal who stabs someone.”
“In my eyes, a driver who drinks and gets on the road is as bad as someone who launches a knife attack,” he says.
He stresses that the problem of reckless driving is particularly deadly within the Arab community.
“I can see it in the villages where I live. The driving has reached criminal levels. Many have been killed. The youth go wild on four-by-four ATVs. Civilians pay the price,” he says.
“It pains me greatly to see kids driving in a suicidal manner, killing themselves and others,” he adds. “All of us must join the battle and reject dangerous driving as an illegitimate thing. The Israel Police will enforce the law so that fewer people will cause irreversible damage.”