State Probe Finds 'Systemic Flaws' in Police Force

Probe discovers some problems stem directly from officers ignoring regulations, others due to a faulty police culture, and lack of trust, including among the senior ranks.

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss' probe into two different complaints against the outgoing police commissioner and his successor has found serious systemic shortfalls in the conduct of police units.

Some of the problems stem directly from officers ignoring regulations, others due to a faulty police culture, and lack of trust, including among the senior ranks, according to the report, which investigated outgoing police chief David Cohen and incoming head Yohanan Danino, formerly head of investigations and intelligence.

The comptroller did not reach specific conclusions on the systemic problems he identified in the report, though, but noted that it would be natural that the responsibility for the conduct of the police lies at the doorstep of the upper echelons of command.

Following the comptroller's report, whose secret findings were delivered yesterday to the offices of Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, retired police officer Israel Abarbanel, who had filed one of the complaints, along with Ometz, a good government NGO, demanded that the appointment of Danino be revoked.

Abarbanel warned that if the appointment was not canceled, he would petition the High Court.

Lindenstrauss examined the complaint filed by Abarbanel, who claimed that two police intelligence sources, including Eyal Salhuv, were murdered in 2006, as a result of violation of the rules for running agents. According to Abarbanel, Cohen, who at the time was commander of the Central District, and Danino, who headed investigations and intelligence, whitewashed the investigation of the debacle.

Another complaint was filed by another former officer, Simon Perry, who served as deputy representative of the Israel Police mission in the United States. He said that because of poor relations and rivalry at the top ranks of the intelligence department, which Danino headed, the police failed in bringing a state witness against brothers Yitzhak and Meir Abergil, which would have seen them extradited to the U.S. for trial years earlier. Perry argued that this would have prevented organized crime wars, which claimed innocent lives.

During his examination the comptroller held 39 long meetings and heard 37 witnesses. He also confronted Cohen with Abarbanel.

Yesterday, the comptroller expressed strong criticism at the delay of the police to hold an internal investigation into the two complaints.

The complaints were received at the Comptroller's Office in 2008, but the police asked Lindenstrauss to delay his probe until they held their own internal investigation. They claimed that this would keep the police investigation from becoming tainted.

Lindenstrauss said yesterday that it was not reasonable for the police to take nearly two years to complete an internal investigation, and that as a result, the state investigation was resumed last August.

The comptroller said that it was evident that there was no trust between different police branches, in relation to the two complaints that were investigated. He also said that there were serious shortfalls in the conduct of the police, which were the result of systemic problems, the non-adherence to regulations, and of a flawed culture in the organization.