Sharp Decline in Investigation, Indictment of Israeli Police Officers

New department head quoted saying role of Police Internal Investigations, tasked with looking into wrongdoing by cops, is to provide services for the police

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
גיסו של יהודה ביאדגה, שנורה למוות על ידי שוטר, במח"ש בירושלים. במאי
The brother-in-law of Yehuda Biadga, who was shot by a policeman in January, at the Internal Police Investigations Department, Jerusalem, May 2019. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

The Israeli Police Internal Investigations Department at the Justice Ministry filed criminal charges against 69 policemen in 2018, a drastic 44 percent drop in comparison to the previous year, indicating a sharp change in the policy of indicting policemen for criminal transgressions.

In addition, whereas in 2017 20 percent of cases brought against policemen led to a criminal indictment, in 2018 this was true of only 9 percent of cases investigated.

The dramatic decline is attributed to changes made at the top ranks of the Internal Investigations Department. In April 2018, attorney Keren Bar-Menachem replaced the previous department head, Uri Carmel, whose tenure saw a peak in indictments against policemen. Upon assuming office, Bar-Menachem announced a change in the department’s policies.

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She was quoted as saying in a closed meeting that the department’s role was to provide services for the police, adding that her intention was to improve relations between the police and her department. Bar-Menachem has maintaining good relations with senior police officers and has ongoing contact with interim Commissioner Moti Cohen, including periodic meetings with him and with regional commanders.

Bar-Menachem’s policy is also evident in the number of criminal cases her department hands over to the police’s disciplinary department. In 2018 there were 152 such files, compared to 118 in 2017.

A further change in the department’s policies is evident in limited number and information it publishes compared to previous years. There were also some structural changes since Bar-Menachem assumed the position, such as departmental separation of investigators and attorneys.

The most intense debate currently revolving around the department is whether to indict the officer who shot to death Ethiopian-Israeli Solomon Teka. There are daily demonstrations by social activists outside Bar-Menachem’s house, trying to persuade her to file grave charges.

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