Local Forces Could Become Politicized

The plan to place authority over law enforcement in the hands of municipalities and regional councils will force the government to solve many shortcomings. For instance, law enforcement in affluent towns will benefit from large budgets, while poorer towns in the periphery with higher crime rates will struggle to allocate sufficient funds.

Currently, police activity is funded directly by the government, but if the plan is implemented local authorities will budget law enforcement from various sources, including municipal taxes and private donations.

Another issue that will have to be addressed is the type of legal authority to be vested in municipal inspectors. National police say police work is complicated and requires a long training period: Inspectors hired by municipalities will lack the necessary skills to perform well, and will harm law enforcement's efficiency.

Others fear that authority over law enforcement will be abused by corrupt mayors and regional council heads. In recent years, dozens of elected officials have been investigated for corruption by the police. Politicians suspected of such charges may use their power over law enforcement in their locality to thwart investigations against them by cutting budgets.

"You're going to let the cats watch the cream?" Moti Paska, a businessman from the town of Beit She'an in the north, said yesterday. "Municipalities are political. This is not a serious proposal - it will politicize the police."

Beit She'an mayor Jacky Levy said his greatest concern is that the local police authorities' abilities will vary according to the size of the municipalities' or regional councils' budgets.