Report: Cops Cooking Numbers by Opening Unnecessary Cases

Senior officials are concerned police officers have been opening thousands of criminal cases with little justification and closing them soon after - in an effort to shore up their crime-fighting statistics, internal correspondence obtained by Haaretz shows.

police arrest
Moti Kimche

In an internal email sent to fellow top officers, Chief Superintendent Davidi Gerder-Sagiv, a senior investigator in the strategic research and statistic center at the national police headquarters in Jerusalem, wrote he had checked thousands of files, and found disturbing trends. The email was addressed to Maj. Gen. Yoav Segalovich, chief of investigations and intelligence, and to other senior officials responsible for various districts in the department.

Gerder-Sagiv focused on cases involving "possession of a knife," an offense so commonplace Tel Aviv police declared combating it a special priority. It is considered an "exposure offense," in which police initiate a search and find a knife on a person. The chief material evidence presented before the court in such cases is the knife itself. He researched the history of the cases on the matter opened since 2006, noting how the cases had been closed.

"Speaking to operatives, we learn and fear that many files are inappropriately opened based on nuisances, such as possession of a penknife. This is done exclusively to present a good record and get good marks" in the internal police database, Gerder-Sagiv wrote.

He said he was particularly alarmed to find 60 percent of such cases closed "for lack of evidence." The investigator wondered in the email how it is possible to close a possession of a knife case due to lack of evidence, when the knife is the evidence that allows the cop to open the case in the first place.

The investigator noted that between 2006 and 2010 the number of cases opened solely for knife possession went up by 78.2 percent, and arrests on the offense went up by 67 percent. However, indictments only rose by 43 percent.

Gerder-Sagiv suggested the investigation and intelligence department "seriously examine everything concerning cases open on possession of a knife, perhaps by in-depth sampling of the files."

"We believe there's ground to review the ratings of the ... system, and considering canceling the rating by cases opened, scoring units instead by the number of indictments and extensions of remands until the exhaustion of legal proceedings," he wrote.

Over the weekend, Ometz good government watchdog attorney Pinchas Fischler requested State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss perform an in-depth review of the police software used to rate police.