Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch deliberated for weeks before picking Maj. Gen. Yohanan Danino to be the next national police commissioner. The decision is an important one not only because the appointment of a new commander is a big moment in the life of any organization, but also because the police commissioner usually outlasts the minister who recommended his appointment.
Governments fall, ministers come and go, but the national police chief stays on for three or four years. Thus, Aharonovitch likely believes that Danino, who is likely to serve as commissioner in a shifting political landscape, will be his true partner in effecting critical changes in the Israel Police.
This platform, consisting of the foundations laid by the outgoing commissioner, David Cohen, plus modifications dictated by new needs, must match the resources of the police and its abilities to take on the challenges of the second decade of the 21st century.
The challenges are many, from corruption at the highest reaches of government to the depths of the criminal underworld, with its crimes against property and persons and disruption of the public order.
In the years to come, Israel could face missile strikes against civilian population sectors as well as the need to evacuate settlements in the West Bank. It will be up to Danino to ready the police for these scenarios as well.
Like the other candidates for the post, Danino is a member of today's sophisticated officers corps, which is the equal to the commanding ranks of other security and law enforcement agencies. The difficulty lies in translating the personal capability of the top officials into the performance of nearly 30,000 police officers, many of whom are severely overworked, underpaid and bitter about how the public and their commanders relate to them.
Beat policing was abandoned in Israel decades ago, but the person whose beat is the entire nation is expected to be able to inculcate in his officers a spirit of battle against criminals, on the one hand, and of service without harm to innocent citizens on the other.
This is also a test for the prime minister and his ministers, as well as for Israeli society as a whole when it next votes on its order of priorities: Is the welfare of all citizens, at home and on the street, less important to them than other matters that are precious to certain sectors only?
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