PM pledges to increase police officer numbers

Police believe addition of 900 officers could lower crime rates by 10%, which would save country up to NIS 3.4 billion a year.

police car 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
police car 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
In the wake of the police’s struggle to meet its tasks while staying within the small budget allocated to it, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pledged on Monday to increase the number of officers in Israel, especially in the North and in Arab areas.
Netanyahu also said he would beef up numbers by increasing the number of National Service recruits in the police. He said a government decision would be passed on the issue within two weeks.
But the latter aspect of Netanyahu’s plan was dismissed by former Jerusalem police chief Micky Levy, who likened it to “giving Acamol to a heart attack patient.”
“You get officers who are less good this way,” Levy said. “To be a police officer is a profession. On the field, an officer is like a small judge who has to make decisions. A 25-year-old professional officer will respond differently than an 18- year-old [from National Service].”
The police’s budget stands at NIS 7.5 billion a year, a figure police say is woefully inadequate in light of Israel’s rapidly growing population and varied policing needs. The IDF, by comparison, has an annual budget of NIS 60 billion.
“When they decide on budget cuts, the army does not get touched, but the Public Security Ministry is affected,” Levy said.
He explained that over 80 percent of the police budget is spent on salaries – leaving little for technological innovations, building new stations or increasing officer ranks.
“The Israel Police is always left wanting and one step behind. The missions faced by police in Israel have no equivalent anywhere in the world,” Levy said. “In no other country does the police have responsibility for domestic security in a country surrounded by enemies and facing terrorist threats.
“This is a special burden,” Levy said, adding that the current budget does not allow police to meet its goals. “The blanket is too short. If the police pulls it up to cover its face, its feet will get cold.”
Levy also criticized the decision to create central police operator rooms in each police district, rather than allowing citizens to phone operators in their local stations.
“If someone calls police in the North, and there is a call center in Haifa, the operator will not understand the area. Was the call made from a residential area or an industrial zone?”
Israel has 3.19 officers for every 1,000 civilians, a figure that the police believes is inadequate in light of the plethora of policing challenges and growing population.
The police believe that an addition of 900 officers could lower crime rates by 10%, which would in turn save the country up to NIS 3.4 billion a year.