Yohanan Danino- Tomer Appelbaum
Police Chief Yohanan Danino. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
Text size

Yohanan Danino, who was appointed police commissioner yesterday, will take up his position in May, but he needs to start thinking now about what kind of police force he wants to lead.

While organized crime will be a focus, no less important is the personnel situation within the force.

Organization will, it appears, pose a problem whether it involves the external threat of organized crime - which has been and will always be one of the primary targets of the police - or the internal structural problems of the police force itself.

This week at the Rosh Ha'ayin police station, as in other police stations across the country, a brief notice was hung up on the bulletin board announcing that the state had decided not to grant police officers the NIS 2,000 bonus that the treasury had decided to allot them, in its latest negotiations with civil servants.

But the police don't have anyone to call a strike on their behalf. The incident is just one example of the extent to which police officers feel unappreciated.

Danino will have to restore a sense of professional honor to the police force. The race to the police commissionership that Danino won has turned the police into the punching bag of the civilians, who are constantly hearing about the ugly politics in the police force.

Danino is also going to have to examine how to improve the finances of the police officers under him, many of whom barely make ends meet.

The security situation will force Danino to prepare the police force for wartime as well.

Israel is anxiously following the events in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, and the police are preparing as well. Danino is entering a period in which Israel's security situation looks hazy whether looking to the north or the south.

During Operation Cast Lead in Gaza and the Second Lebanon War, the police realized that Israelis in distress were not calling the army's Home Front Command but the police emergency number, 100, and responding to that requires a great deal of preparation - and, primarily, money.

The police will have to acquire things they don't currently have, like additional communications devices and methods for dealing with sites where rockets have landed. In addition, the police are preparing for a situation in which Israeli Arabs hold demonstrations during wartime in which they publicly identify with the enemy. This will require large forces even as combat is underway, and the ability to serve a large population that is under fire.

Danino will have to think about whether the police force's current organizational structure is right for the force of the future.

The Public Security Ministry, as well as the police, increasingly want to significantly change the existing organizational structure, in which each district includes several sub-districts, each of which includes police stations. Each of those jurisdictions requires a great deal of personnel and funding.

The senior officers tend to oppose a restructuring, since the sub-districts are good places to promote their buddies. But the police stations are collapsing under the burden they have to bear; there are too many mid- or high-ranking officers and not enough low-level patrol cops walking their beats.