Police Commissioner David Cohen's term will end in about five months. Cohen moved the Israeli police force ahead - it is a better organization than the one handed him by Moshe Karadi - but it is still far from satisfactory. In certain areas, for example the fight against corruption and organized crime, the police have chalked up achievements. In other areas however, such as protecting citizens and their property, the police have no reason to be proud.
In the command structure of the Israel Police, the district commanders under the commissioner possess a great deal of power. So does the minister who oversees him and those who decide whether to turn investigations into indictments - that is, the attorney general and the State Prosecutor's Office. But in an organization responsible for law and security, the police chief holds the main power. He is the one who determines priorities and emphases. He builds the corps of commanders and his spirit inspires the tens of thousands of police officers who come into contact with both the public and criminals.
The embarrassing affairs connected with senior police officials that have come to light over the past few weeks - which began with the director general of the Public Security Ministry (who held the police rank of commander ), Hagai Peleg, and continued with complaints against Maj. Gen. Uri Bar-Lev, the aftermath of which touched other major generals as well - have sharpened the need to appoint a commissioner who will exert both professional and moral authority.
The next police chief must first and foremost be untainted by any suspicions against him. It is hard to believe such a basic requirement needs to be iterated, but given the reality of recent weeks - during which time more than one major general has been accused of offenses - only selecting an officer about whom there are no misgivings at all can clear the air. Therefore, it is also important that the public security minister not delay in choosing a candidate.
That, of course is not all. The next commissioner must lead the police to fulfill its tasks in areas where it is defective - first and foremost, the security of ordinary citizens who have lost their faith in the police force. The chief must also continue the momentum of police work aimed at cracking down on corruption and organized crime.
Even after the latest scandals, there are still worthy candidates among the current major generals - who can shape the Israel Police to carry out its tasks, with the proper support of the prime minister, the Finance Ministry and the justice system. The next police commissioner should be selected from among these candidates.
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