October 24: Wanted: citizen-friendly police force

A modern update in law enforcement procedures and report writing is necessary to bring Israel into the 20th century.

letters 88 NICE (photo credit: )
letters 88 NICE
(photo credit: )
Wanted: citizen-friendly police force
Sir, – It was nice to see Prof. David Weisburd receive a welldeserved award as one of the nation’s leading criminologists (“Crime watch with ‘Miami Weis,’” October 21). But, if I might suggest, the need for revamping the police department should start at the bottom, not the top.
Having been a police officer in the US for over 20 years and a volunteer police officer here in Israel for the last three, I can tell you that police policies in Israel are years out of date, sometimes going back to pre-1948 British policy manuals.
A modern update in law enforcement procedures and report writing is necessary to bring Israel into the 20th century. Officers need to be sent to citizens’ homes rather than having the citizen drive to the Russian Compound to make a report. Police report writing needs to be made simple and user-friendly, including traffic citations. Right now, police reports are cumbersome and old fashioned.
Today very few police officers take the time to write a ticket, because the tickets are long and complicated, and the judges are easily manipulated by seasoned lawyers. Then we have the non-police tasks that our police officers are forced to do, like providing security for construction crews on city streets. Take these officers off non-police duties and put them back patrolling the streets.
Most police departments worldwide promote police officers to positions as investigators because they have shown an ability to investigate basic crimes. Since most officers in Israel only respond to in-progress crimes and not to cold, home burglaries or other low priority crimes, they do not develop the abilities to speak to witnesses, victims, or suspects. This limits their ability to learn how to be an investigator, whose first need is to communicate with the victim.
Those abilities, which are learned by police officers when working the streets of cities like Los Angeles and New York City, have not been developed in Israel. So the officers fail the public due to a lack of prior experience.
Finally, we have many of the finest military minds in the country working for our police. But they are officers, and do not do the day-to-day grunt work of knowing who is a criminal, making arrests, and testifying in court. We are top-heavy in rank with few really knowing what it takes to run a citizen-based police department.
The police department should seek out experts who live in Israel, and who have prior firsthand experience in law enforcement. Ask them to advise on the requirements needed to become not only a modern police department, but an agency that its citizens will feel comfortable calling.
Setting a precedent
Sir, – The application to the ICC by the Palestinians (“ICC hosts debate on whether to allow PA to complain about crimes committed on ‘Palestinian territory,’” October 21), which may lead to recognition by various countries to a unilateral declaration of statehood by the Palestinians, will no doubt be noted by the Kurds of Turkey and the Basques of Spain, among others. It should then lead them to apply for recognition as independent states.
The Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka must be sorry that they were not able to hold out against the Sri Lankan onslaught against their civilian population which led to them being denied their own statehood.
Will Tibet also be able to get back its independence? And what about the other numerous minorities around the world who would also like to jump on this particular bandwagon?
Still in the shtetl
Sir, – The whole shameful issue of the greatly disproportionate sentence that Jonathan Pollard received for his crime illustrates the complete failure of American jurisprudence, but the failure of American Jews to vociferously cry out against this injustice is even more shameful (“American Jews should demand Pollard’s freedom,” October 20).
Pollard is no less a victim of the alleged anti-Semitic proclivity of former secretary of defense Caspar Weinberger than Dreyfus was of the French military high command of his day.
The failure of American Jews to react with utter rage reminds us that psychologically they’re still in the shtetl, suffering from pogroms, despite their status within American society.
HAIM M. LERNER Ganei Tikva
Let them be the first
Sir, – Regarding the oath of allegiance our Knesset members are discussing (“Revised ‘loyalty oath’ bill to include all wouldbe- citizens,” October 19): They are elected by party, not individually. So if they presume to make this decision, I, for one, would like them to be the first Israelis to take this oath.
M. SCHAEFFER Jerusalem
Draw boundaries in peace talks, not before
Sir, – Ray Hanania is a commentator with whom I often disagree, but whom I nevertheless respect, because he’s normally fair and makes sense. However, in this case (“Lonely, oh so [increasingly] lonely,” Yalla peace, October 19) he makes two glaring errors.
He claims that by refusing to extend the building moratorium, we insist on holding “lands that would become part of a future Palestinian state.”
First, we are being asked, nay brutally pressured, to desist from building on land which most reasonable observers believe will remain part of the Israeli state.
Second, who is to determine, absent a peace treaty, which land will be Israeli and which part of this ephemeral Palestinian state?
Hanania may believe that there is a consensus on this, and there may well be – in America. There is no doubt a different consensus in Europe. But there is no consensus in the Middle East. In Israel most of us would be willing to allow the creation of some form of Palestinian entity, provided enforceable safeguards were present to ensure our security.
In the Arab world there is no such belief. Most have not yet accepted the presence of a Jewish Israeli state within any borders. Look at the Hamas constitution, listen to the public speeches in Arabic by Arab statesmen. The last Arab leader who really believed in peace and was brave enough to say so in public was Anwar Sadat, and we know what happened to him.
Were we to agree to not build in any areas we now control, this would be tantamount to agreeing that these areas will not form part of the future Israeli state. One draws boundaries at a peace conference, not before it.
Netanyahu has gone further than he should have, to smooth the path to a peace conference. Meanwhile the Arabs have not shifted their demands by one iota.
Standing firm on our rights and refusing to abandon defensible borders may alienate world opinion, but it is preferable to suicide.
Ma’aleh Adumim
Not so gay
Sir, – Rabbi Boteach has written an anthropological article without much relevance to the news and the needs in the gay community (“The Jewish view of homosexuality,” October 19).
An orthodox rabbi who dares to come out as gay-friendly is refreshing, but that is not enough. He should also preach to us to seek out, honor and cherish GLB friends. He should openly condemn the very mean, day-to-day, interpersonal and institutionalized GLB oppression and point out the morally sinful attitude of most Orthodox Jews and communities vis-à-vis homosexuals.