Police Officers Dismissed in Wake of Botched Kidnapping Call

Committee probe finds severe misconduct in handling of emergency hotline center on night three teens were kidnapped in West Bank; Police commissioner calls failure 'unforgivable.'

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
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Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino visits the police call center in Tel Aviv, May 18, 2012.
Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino visits the police call center in Tel Aviv, May 18, 2012.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

The committee investigating the conduct of the operators of the Judea and Samaria Police emergency hotline the night of the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers on June 12 found that there was a "severe failure of conduct."

The findings, published on Monday, focused on the phone call received on the night of the kidnapping. They describe a "mishandling of the telephone call received at the center, as far as the professional standards expected from emergency hotline operators on all levels, and which included all the ranks: police, officers and commanders involved."

As a result of the findings, Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino immediately dismissed some officers involved in the incident, among them the chief operations officer and the head of the command and control center. Neither will be able to serve in any position of authority over the next three years. The emergency hotline's shift supervisor and manager will also be dismissed, and their continued service in the police will be examined.

According to the report, on the night of the kidnapping at about 10:25 P.M., a telephone call was received and a soft voice of one of the abductees said the words "I have been kidnapped."

The operator called over the shift supervisor, a police sergeant major, who tried to speak with the abductee and call back the traced number no less than eight times. The manager was also informed of the call, and both reached a decision that night not to look into the call any further.

The report's findings state that according to protocol, the hotline staff should have tried to locate the identity of the caller and to try and track the owner of the mobile phone and then assess the location of the caller.

Danino said that the case involved "severe misconduct regarding the handling of a distress call," that cannot happen. "The failure to provide a suitable response to a distressed caller is unforgivable" and could damage the public's trust in the police force.

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