The right to not live in fear

Israel Police and other law enforcement agencies must live by the famous words of Samuel Colt: Fear no man no matter size, count on me I'll equalize.

water 248.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
water 248.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
The brutal murder of Arik Karp on Saturday night at the Tel Baruch beach in north Tel Aviv emphasizes the need to drastically improve the deterrence mechanism of Israel's Police force and of the law enforcement system in its entirety. What could have been done to prevent this Jaljulya-based Israeli-Arab gang from lynching Karp? What steps could have been taken to deter these youngsters from attacking him for no apparent reason? What could have stopped this senseless murder of an innocent man? Is there any real difference between these thugs and the Palestinian masses that lynched two IDF soldiers who were simply following PA police officers (after stopping to ask for directions) in Ramallah in September 2000? Perhaps the only difference is that the Ramallah lynching was captured on camera, whereas the events of Saturday night were witnessed by only Karp's wife and daughter, whose line of defense was tragically confined to tears and cries for help. As their beloved's body was thrown into the sea (in a futile attempt to cover-up the evidence), the killers escaped and Karp's family was left helpless. Suppose Karp had been armed with a handgun, had opened fire in defense, and left behind six bodies lying in pools of blood. What would have become of Arik then in court? What would be the legal ramifications of his actions? Karp's version would most likely have been challenged by colorful tales of how Karp himself assaulted the "innocent" youngsters. It would have been difficult for him to express his brave actions in court because six dead bodies are far more convincing than any explanation he could provide as to why he was forced to commit the act. However, Arik will not have to explain himself. Neither would the two fallen soldiers in Ramallah. We must now instead rise up and serve as a voice of reform on behalf of Arik Karp and other victims of similar crimes. We must launch a campaign to improve Israeli law enforcement so that criminals finally understand that crime does not, and will never, pay off. Criminals and thugs across Israel must fear the legal system and know that their actions will be punished by the highest letter of the law. AS HEAD of the Shin Bet, I issued an order to bring each and every perpetrator of the Ramallah lynching to justice. This took years of patience and determination - but it was necessary and we succeeded. I will never forget how one of the murderers, whose blood-drenched hands will forever be ingrained in our memories, was imprisoned, however this time his hands were bound by "blue and white" handcuffs. This is the way to promote deterrence. While ideologically different, criminals are similar to terrorists in that they will achieve their aims over the backs, and sometimes bodies, of others. Harming or even killing is viewed as a legitimate course of action, among many criminal groups. When I began my Shin Bet career 35 years ago as an air marshal, I came across a sign hung in the office of my American trainer that read: "Fear no man no matter size, Count on me I'll equalize." These words, a slogan used by the legendary gun manufacturer Samuel Colt, have remained with me. The Israel Police must live up to this blunt credo. Citizens must not live in fear in our society - we simply can't allow it. Just as water flows from every faucet across the state and electricity lights up millions of households from Eilat to Rosh Hanikra, personal safety is a basic, unalienable component of life for every Israeli. Our society should not, cannot and will not accept a country comprised of dangerous streets. Our wealth of human capital has created innovative solutions to complex problems. We have developed brilliant ways to win wars and curb terrorism, enrich a resource-poor economy, and develop world-class cutting-edge technologies. It is time to focus on our law enforcement system. FOR DECADES, I have witnessed and presided over the allocation of enormous amounts of resources toward the agencies that preserve our national security (IDF, Shin-Bet and the Mossad). I am now advocating a reexamination of the resource allocation within our law enforcement system. To continue thriving as a society, this is crucial. Securing a nation is meaningless if its citizens are scared to enter the public domain. As public security minister (2006-2009), I emphasized a policy that adopted tools and tactics used in counterterrorism to the realm of law enforcement, under the slogan that, "criminals and terrorists shall and will be pursued by the same tools and methods". As a result, the Israel Police revolutionized its intelligence gathering capabilities (especially communications, signal and digital intel) and created a long-term budgetary foundation for which to do so. Subsequently, tools and know-how were imported from Israel's other security agencies. This has all brought forth tremendous and rapid results. Organized criminals were brought from thrones of crime to cells of concrete as we instilled panic within their networks. In order to achieve effective deterrence of street crime, the police must increase the number of officers at each station. In 2007, I successfully lobbied then-prime minister Ehud Olmert and finance minister Ronnie Bar-On to bolster our national force with 1000 additional police officers, intended only for "field" positions. Unfortunately, with the change of administration in March, and subsequent budget cuts, the police has not yet received the additional support. Further delaying the implementation of this plan to add police officers to the streets is an endless debate within our government regarding the creation of a municipal police force. I believe such a method is incompatible with Israeli society, and would disperse our existing forces instead of centralizing them. Rather, the best way to move forward is through investment in a proven successful approach currently used in Acre, Netanya, Hadera, Givatayim and other cities. It consists of creating and strengthening municipal security patrol forces that work under the leadership and command of the mayor or in close coordination with local police. We must reach the point where our citizens look at our police force with the full respect they deserve, as our "human shields" and with full confidence in its ability to ensure personal safety for all. Only then will all Israelis feel confident in reporting crimes and testifying against criminals, which will ultimately radically improve security on our streets. To get there, Israel Police must adopt and live by the famous words of Samuel Colt, "Fear no man no matter size, count on us we'll equalize." The writer is a Kadima MK and a former public security minister.