The High Court of Justice yesterday ordered a policewoman reinstated to her job on the grounds that her dismissal - for having been kidnapped by a detainee in her custody - was unreasonable.
"I'm happy it's all behind me," the policewoman, Irena Gorohod, said after the verdict. "I've been through two very tough years. ... The court's decision does justice with me and with many other cops who could find themselves in the same position."
Gorohod was working at the Ashdod police station in May 2008 when a detainee named Eyal Peretz overpowered her while in her charge.
He grabbed her pistol, held it to her head and began negotiating with the duty officer for his getaway. The duty officer gave Peretz a patrol vehicle.
Threatening Gorohod with her own pistol, Peretz ordered her to get behind the wheel and told her to drive somewhere far from the station. Other police officers pursued the car, initiating a chase that ended with their shooting and killing Peretz.
An internal police inquiry subsequently found flaws in the conduct of both Gorohod and the duty officer, but while Gorohod was fired, the duty officer was transferred to a desk job for two years.
Gorohod petitioned the High Court against her dismissal and yesterday, the court ruled that the unusual circumstances of the case justified the rare move of ordering the police force to reinstate her.
"It's true that the petitioner was responsible for a grave operational failure," wrote Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch and Justices Edna Arbel and Esther Hayut. Nevertheless, they said, "the Israel Police, like every other governmental agency, is obligated to make decisions on the basis of all the facts, to ensure that they will be reasonable and to the point."
The court found that the police commissioner and the police's director of human resources - the two officers who had to approve the firing - clearly did not judge Gorohod and the duty officer by the same criteria, because the severity of the penalty imposed on Gorohod was disproportionately more severe than the penalty imposed on the duty officer.
Moreover, the justices said, the decision to dismiss Gorohod gave no weight to her previous excellent record (she had even been recommended for an officer's course ), to the exceptional circumstances of her abduction, to the role other police officers played in the subsequent escalation, or to the fact that Gorohod had never been given any training in how to deal with kidnapping scenarios.
Finally, they said, her dismissal was disproportionate, as the commissioner and the human resources director never even considered more moderate disciplinary measures.
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