Police lassitude

A young Jewish settler (R) speaks with an Israeli police officer near buildings slated for demolition in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beit El (photo credit: REUTERS)
A young Jewish settler (R) speaks with an Israeli police officer near buildings slated for demolition in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beit El
(photo credit: REUTERS)
There’s no disputing that there’s no wisdom like hindsight wisdom. That said, there’s substantively more than Monday morning quarterbacking in the criticism leveled at police preparations for the ill-fated gay pride parade in Jerusalem where schoolgirl Shira Banki was stabbed to death and five others were wounded.
With a little foresight on the part of our law-enforcers, there would be no need for hindsight reexamination.
The fact that the police was obliged to set up an inquiry committee into its own perceived incompetence speaks volumes.
The evidence already stacked against the police is no less than staggering.
Apprehended perpetrator, Yishai Schlissel, was a man with a prior conviction for the identical crime, in identical circumstances and in the identical place. He was released from prison just three weeks before the recent parade and boasted all over social media that he planned to repeat his crime. Schlissel served just 10 years of a 12-year sentence for having knifed several participants at Jerusalem’s gay pride parade in 2005.
The judgment of the judicial authorities, of course, also deserves close inspection since Schlissel was no petty crook, was openly unrepentant and there were no grounds to assume that he’d somehow surprisingly emerge a reformed character.
The police certainly didn’t think so and this is where another episode in the ongoing saga of our constabulary’s bungling begins.
From what has already emerged from the inquiry, the police drew up a list of six potential suspects who might attempt to violently disrupt the parade. Schlissel topped it. In other words, he was distinctly in the cops’ sights but all that was done about it was to circulate his mug shot to the many officers detailed to secure the parade.
Amazingly, he still wiggled his way among the marchers and, despite his strikingly atypical attire, no cop stopped him, the photos of him notwithstanding.
The greatest puzzle is why he and other suspects weren’t picked up for questioning on any pretext for the duration of the parade. If suspicion of him was so pronounced to begin with, it would have been eminently reasonable to temporarily remove Schlissel from the scene. It would have been a minimal precaution, unlikely to have entailed major legal entanglements.
Had this been an isolated case of police lassitude, it would have been tragic enough. But this isn’t so. Shira’s avoidable murder sadly highlights the same police ineptitude as manifested in other homicides.
Although it is doubtful that the coldblooded execution of the three schoolboys kidnapped by terrorists last summer at the Alon Shvut junction was ultimately preventable, the police response could, nevertheless, not have been more irresponsible. A distress call from one of the abducted boys was ignored, as were alerts from the distraught parents. Many ultra-precious hours were pointlessly wasted when the trail was still hot and the abductors hadn’t yet completed their getaway. The earlier chase is given, the greater the chance of success.
It’s nothing but heart-rending that what should be elementary to law-enforcement personnel evidently wasn’t – as in the gay pride parade case or in the 2006 very preventable Inbal Amram murder.
The 21-year-old disappeared from her Petah Tikva home’s parking lot. It eventually transpired that she was abducted by a carjacker/terrorist. Her father frantically sought help at the nearest police station where the three officers present mockingly shouted him down, treated him abusively and eventually ejected him altogether from the premises.
Inbal’s abandoned car was belatedly found in a derelict lot.
She was inside, her throat slashed and barely alive. The paramedics were unable to save her by that point.
None of the above blunders was caused by lack of money or material resources. The police image and capacity to regain a modicum of respect won’t improve until strict discipline is imposed and a new set of values is inculcated throughout the force.
The citizenry must be convinced that officers won’t again resort to shifty excuses. They must be obliged to act on all suspicions of serious crime. Better to err on the side of caution than rely on arbitrary whims or hunches.
We can only hope that this will be an issue taken seriously by the new police inspector-general.