Senior police officers lied to arrange the cancellation of speeding tickets they received, according to an internal police investigation that confirmed findings documented in a state comptroller’s report last year.
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The investigation was conducted by Brig. Gen. Yael Edelman, the police commissioner’s adviser on women’s issues, who was appointed to conduct an inquiry following the comptroller’s report. Despite the severe findings against the officers involved, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich doled out only mild punishments and even promoted some of them.
In February 2016, State Comptroller Joseph Shapira issued a report that examined the effectiveness of the A-3 speed cameras that are deployed all over the country. During his inquiry, he found that senior police officers who had received speeding tickets on account of the cameras were asking to have them canceled, claiming that they had been driving on police duty.
The large number of tickets canceled and charges dropped spurred the comptroller to investigate a sampling of them further to ascertain if the cancellations were justified. He found a culture of lying that prevailed at all levels of the police regarding the cancellation of traffic tickets, and instructed the police to conduct its own inquiry, saying the findings “portray a worrisome situation.”
Despite the severity of the findings, Alsheich chose pretty mild sanctions – reprimands to the officers involved, payment of fines and delaying promotions for a limited period. It is not clear if the Traffic Police commanders who approved the unjustified ticket cancellations were punished at all.
Shapira’s report mentioned cases of three senior police officers. One concerned Brig Gen. Yehuda Dahan, Yarkon Precinct commander in the Tel Aviv District, who was documented speeding in Jerusalem five different times in 2013. The tickets were canceled because Dahan claimed he was speeding as a matter of police necessity. But the comptroller found in that in most of the instances Dahan cited, no patrol car ever came to the scene, meaning Dahan made claims that did not square with police records. Alsheich conducted a disciplinary hearing for Dahan at which he was reprimanded, fined and informed that he would be denied promotions for a limited period.
Another case involved then-Border Police commander in Jerusalem, Brig. Gen. Yizhar Peled. Peled was documented on nine occasions doing between 110 to 125 kilometers per hour on Route 3 between Kiryat Malachi and the Negba Junction, where the permitted speed limit is 80 kph. He was indicted twice and issued seven fines. Peled also claimed he had been speeding because his work demanded it. The Traffic Police commander at the time, Maj. Gen. Moshe Edri, cancelled the two indictments and four of the seven fines.
But the comptroller’s investigation showed that Peled’s documentation did not prove that the speeding came during police activity, and at times even confirmed otherwise. He too got a disciplinary hearing from Alsheich, at which he was reprimanded, fined and told he would not be promoted in the near term. Nevertheless, only a few months later he was given command of Border Police forces in the West Bank, considered a prestigious post. Edri has also since been promoted to Tel Aviv Police commander.
Also mentioned in the report was Cmdr. Tomer Badash, commander of the Jerusalem Police’s central unit, who was flagged going 132 kph in a 90 kph zone. He asked that his indictment be cancelled because he was on the job at the time, and then-Traffic Police commander Maj. Gen. Bruno Stein canceled the charges. But a check of the diaries showed that there was no urgent police activity going on at that time and place. Nevertheless, Badash got off with only a warning. Both he and Stein recently retired from the police for personal reasons.
The Israel Police issued a statement saying, “After getting the recommendations from the examining officer [Edelman] the police commissioner called Brig. Gen. Dahan and Brig. Gen. Peled to single-judge disciplinary hearing. They were judged, reprimanded and given fines that exceeded the total of all the tickets against them. There was also a command step taken, with their advancement delayed. Cmdr. Badash, who had gotten only one ticket, was issued a warning.”
The statement added: “The Israel Police is an organization that enforces the law and obeys the law. Any deviation from this is behavior that’s inconsistent with the organization’s values and is dealt with accordingly.” The statement noted that oversight procedures were changed in the Traffic Division to prevent recurrences.