New police chief needed now

When it comes to crime, Alsheich seems to have failed.

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich speaks in Knesset (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich speaks in Knesset
In the coming week, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan is expected to announce the identity of the next police commissioner. Considering how the appointment process went last time, we hope it will be smoother now.
The police commissioner plays an important role in Israel. On the one hand, the person who will fills that position is responsible for ensuring that Israeli citizens feel safe in their homes, on their streets and in their cities. In addition, the commissioner oversees the continued battle against corruption that sadly is still part of Israel’s story. There are the investigations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife Sara, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and other assorted officials spread across Israeli government and municipal institutions.
When Roni Alsheich was appointed police commissioner in 2015, there were some who believed that the former deputy head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) – said to be smart, witty and talented – would succeed at spearheading a series of reforms that would improve law enforcement and up the average citizen’s sense of security.
On the one hand, while he was appointed by Netanyahu and originally suspected of promising the prime minister allegiance, Alsheich did not shy away from investigating Israel’s top politician. On the contrary, there are currently four ongoing probes against the prime minister.
Alsheich is also credited with upgrading the police’s technological capabilities, bringing from the Shin Bet additional systems that have been helpful in catching criminals and uncovering wrongdoing.
When it comes to crime though, here Alsheich seems to have failed. While the police claim that there is an overall drop in crime, that is the result of people simply not reporting. At the same time, there is a reported 22% increase in rape and sexual assault. In addition, crime in the Israeli-Arab sector as well as agriculture crime continues to escalate. While to residents of large cities it might look like crime is down, in the Negev and in the Galilee that is not the feeling.
It seems that Alsheich didn’t fully understand his position as the country’s police commissioner. He thought he was also responsible for grading our political leaders. One example was in the interview he gave Ilana Dayan in February. In the first few minutes of the interview, Dayan played for Alsheich a speech Netanyahu gave a few months earlier during which the prime minister claimed that 60% of police recommendations to indict are thrown in the trash.
This is how Alsheich reacted: “A pity. In one word, a pity. I think it is a pity for all of us.”
Alsheich seemed to have forgotten his place. Since when does the police chief give elected officials grades for their speeches or what they say? What Netanyahu said might have been wrong and unethical, but the people elect him, not Alsheich.
Alsheich was brought in to run the police from the outside after a number of top officers left their posts due to sexual improprieties. But instead of making order, Alsheich is returning the police in a similar mess. The ongoing saga, for example, surrounding the failed appointment of Brig.-Gen. (res.) Gal Hirsch as police chief has not ended, and too many questions remain.
Most disturbing are reports – yet to be clarified – that shortly after the announcement to appoint Hirsch, orders were given by top officers to collect incriminating material against him. This is frightening, evoking association with dark regimes that Israel should have no resemblance to.
The problem is that the Hirsch case has not yet been closed. It remains open and ongoing even more than three years later.
Israel deserves a strong and respected police force. Alsheich had his chance and missed it. We hope Erdan chooses a candidate who can fix the police and is not seeking personal gain but rather to advance the State of Israel and help keep its citizens safe. That is what is needed.