Traffic Cops and Border Guards

It is best for the police to deal only with policing and to outsource the security functions to the Border Police alone.

Moshe Karadi did not wish to be police chief. He did not reject the offer when it came, a lot sooner than he expected, but his more realistic dream was to be appointed head of the Border Police, through which he arrived at the Israel Police as a young officer.

The chief of the Border Police is not really a police chief, only the senior officer of a security force branch whose units are subordinate to police districts and the Israel Defense Forces Central Command. There is no better job, Karadi quipped before his friends - or his rivals - in the senior staff: "respect without responsibility." This is the opposite of the police chief, the post Karadi is leaving injured from the blows of Vardimus Zeiler and Avi Dichter: They are placing with him responsibility and stripping him of respect.

Last month, a hefty and expensive volume of 512 shiny pages, entitled "Israel Police during the disengagement operation," was published on his behalf - his advance response to the Zeiler report. This is Karadi's report, and it contains at least 10 photographs of Karadi, during his "glory days," as he calls the pullout from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria. The tome weighs about two kilograms, and it could serve well in a distance throwing competition during the police sports day. Or perhaps it could be used to disperse demonstrations (if the police mounts do not succumb to its weight). An attorney and retired police brigadier general, who was rushed to his local post office due to the suspicious object, contacted Dichter at the sight of the extravagant gift and complained at the puzzling preference in alloting funds. The pensioner could not fax a single police station. "We have no fax," the officer on duty apologized, lying to make up for the embarrassment. There is a fax machine, but the budget for paper ran out.

The book contains many watered-down terms - inhabitants, not settlers; challenge, not threat; mobile cell, not cage - as well as material useful to Dichter's chosen police chief, Yaakov Ganot. Take, for example, the visionary document "The values of Israel Police" on "integrity and setting a personal example": an officer "preserves his integrity and honesty. He behaves according to the rules of discipline. He tells the truth, reports accurately and in full, and serves as a personal example in his behavior at all times."

The police organizational chart in the book shows there is a desperate need for cuts at the top for the sake of the bottom: Out of 15 major generals subordinate to the police chief, three or four section heads at the national headquarters are clearly superfluous, and their departments could be merged. To manage the police units and the six districts, departments for resources, management, operations, patrols, investigations and intelligence are sufficient.

We should not forgot - and last week Dichter had an awakening - the traffic police. It does not receive much beyond lip service. When its officers are turned down for promotion they are told that they are performing "holy work," but not in a "core role." The sudden embrace of the traffic police - when there is a sharp rise in accident victims during a particular week - contains a great deal of demagogy.

Enforcing traffic regulations is only half the task of this force's work. The other half is maintaining the traffic flow, but the two halfs are somewhat contradictory. The most efficient way to counter traffic violations is to set up permanent and surprise road blocks along main traffic arteries, but this also ensures there will be delays and jams along these roads. It is not advisable to put the Israeli driver before the dilemma "life or free-flowing traffic."

It is best for the police to deal only with policing and to outsource the security functions to the Border Police alone, under a paramilitary framework that includes its 16 reserve companies, plus sapper capabilities. Another role for which Karadi needs to prepare and train the force, just like the IDF and the police did in the summer 2005, is the evacuation of the outposts and the settlements in the West Bank, in order to establish, finally, the border that they should be guarding.