The Brain Behind Many High-profile Indictments

One officer says that Danino's biggest challenge will be restoring the police department's lost prestige.

Yohanan Danino, Israel's next chief of police, trained as a lawyer and joined the police immediately after graduating law school. He initially served as a police prosecutor and was then appointed head of the investigations department of the vehicle theft unit, where he was considered very effective in reducing thefts.

Danino was appointed head of the national unit for the investigation of serious and international crimes, after serving first as deputy head of the unit. While he presided over this unit, it handled the sensitive Greek Island case, which involved allegations regarding the conduct of then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, among others. Danino was criticized at the time for being politically motivated when he recommended closing the case against the prime minister and Sharon's son, Gilad. Danino made enemies within the police department at the time, but he worked hard in subsequent years to repair the damage to his reputation.

Former Public Security Minister Tzachi Hanegbi appointed Danino head of the minister's operational headquarters. He stayed on with Hanegbi's successor, Gideon Ezra, who eventually appointed him head of the police investigations division after the dismissal of Maj. Gen. Moshe Mizrahi. Danino's tenure with the investigative branch was considered a golden era marked by major victories in the fight against organized crime. Under his leadership, investigations were also conducted into the actions of leading public figures that resulted in indictments against President Moshe Katsav, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and ministers Haim Ramon and Abraham Hirchson. Danino was also behind the investigation of the current foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman.

Among his colleagues at the Southern District of the police, where Danino currently serves as commander, there is special pride in the fact that all the recent heads of the Israel Police also commanded this district. His colleagues were hard pressed to conceal their glee at the thought that the "brain," as Danino is known, was chosen to become the next commissioner of the police.

Ironically, police in the Southern District were initially skeptical about Danino when he was appointed to the job and was asked to fill the shoes of Uri Bar-Lev, who was widely admired in the district. Bar-Lev was also a contender to replace current police chief David Cohen, but he ultimately withdrew his candidacy for the top spot amid allegations of sexual offenses.

"Danino is the best man for the job," said one officer. "He has investigated the politicians and has withstood tremendous pressure. He is level-headed and has amazing abilities. The police department will benefit with this man at helm."

The officer added that Danino's biggest challenge will be restoring what colleague said was the department's lost prestige.

Danino's neighbor, Amnon Merhav, who will shortly assume the position of legal adviser to the Jerusalem Municipality, called Danino's nomination the best possible choice for the Israel Police. "I'm sure he will make very significant changes," Merhav said.