The Justice Ministry Police Investigations Unit published its annual report and the picture is bleak. In 640 cases, members of Israel Police were investigated ‘under warning’ in 2017. About 40% of them ended in criminal or disciplinary proceedings. In seventy-one percent of the investigated cases, they ran their full course until the truth was revealed.
Despite recent storms in the law enforcement system, the annual figures for the past year point to a rise in almost all parameters. Of the more than 640 cases investigated by police under warning, decisions were made to indict one or more policemen in 39% of the cases (249 cases), of which more than half (136 files) were prosecuted. The percentage of investigation (ie, cracking the event and reaching the truth) in the files investigated was 71% this year.
A total of 250 criminal or disciplinary cases against one or more police officers per year, relative to the size of the police and the fact that this is a normative organization that operates according to law, indicates significant and effective enforcement by the Department for the Investigation of Police (DIP).
The percentage of convictions of police officers in criminal cases found in court stands at 85% this year, with only 3% of cases ending in acquittal. The percentage of intervention in the Department’s decisions, in the framework of appeals and objections submitted, which were examined this year by the State Attorney’s Office and which traditionally stands at a negligible percentage, stabilized this year at an unprecedented figure of 0%! This is an exceptional figure, which attests to the high quality and professional decision-making process carried out by the Justice Ministry Investigations Unit.
The data indicates a steady increase in the quality of the investigations process and the promotion of a professional, determined and uncompromising struggle against improper phenomena in the police, while exposing and denouncing criminal and disciplinary offenses committed by police officers. All this without exposing disproportionately policemen who acted lawfully to threaten criminal investigation or criminal proceedings, in the absence of a reasonable basis for suspicion of committing an offense or after refuting such suspicion in the course of the investigation.
Uri Carmel, Director of the Department for the Investigation of Police in the State Attorney’s Office adds, “This year, the Justice Ministry unit filed an average of five criminal or disciplinary cases against one or more police officers every week, a total of about 250 criminal or disciplinary cases. These PID files, which are passed on and reported to the police, are supposed to serve the police command to remove police officers who have been sacked, to clean up the lines, identify criminal sites, remove faulty commanders, identify improper phenomena or system failures, training and education, while creating effective internal deterrence. However, only professional enforcement, without bias, in PID files will ensure the public’s trust in the police and in the State Attorney’s Office as one of them, and the principle of watching over the police.
Carmel adds, “Despite the storm that is always raging around us, the eye of the storm itself, where we operate, is a quiet, professional and calm place. Perhaps because of that, the service in her is so fascinating. The basic sense of justice [in the face of injustice caused by the brutal exploitation of power] is sharp and acute, and it urges those involved in the work to exhaust their professional abilities out of absolute loyalty to the truth and to the values of the department.”
The police said that every enforcement body should be supervised and controlled as a means of restraint in addition to the rules and procedures in the organization. Israel Police sees DIP as an additional tool for achieving high quality police.
“We are pleased to see that, according to the findings of the present report, the downward trend in the number of complaints against police officers is reinforced as a result of past learning and preventive and effective internal police activity. In 2017, there was a dramatic decrease of approximately 20% in the number of complaints against policemen, and a similar drop compared to the investigations of DIP that were opened against police officers compared to 2016”, police officials are quoted saying.
Police officials feel, “This is in addition to the fact that only about 10% of all complaints against police officers result in criminal or disciplinary prosecution – testifies to a learning and moral organization that knows how to use properly and proportionately the authority to exercise the power vested in it by law.”
As of now, the Israel Police is not satisfied with the external supervision of the Justice Ministry unit, and since 2016 it has initiated occupational tests, which are used to test reliability and organizational norms in all areas, enable better screening of those who enter its gates, locate exceptions in its services, report to the PID (as far as criminal cases are concerned) mechanisms of prevention in order to reduce stress with an emphasis on sensitive positions.
Starting from November, the Employment Adjustment Law came into force, which greatly strengthens the process established by the Israel Police and establishes it, including the use of a polygraph.
In the course of the current year, police body cameras are expected to be used by the police in the area as additional means of documentation, a mechanism for restraint, supervision and control for the organization, and no less important is a tool to prevent false complaints and curb the violence directed against police officers. Police assaults were up 18% in 2017 as compared to 2016.
The Israel Police will continue to lead a variety of moves (which bear the fruits of the above) to serve its values and worthy officers, in close cooperation with the Justice Ministry’s PID, when any deviation from the norms and values of the organization is handled accordingly and will continue to be during the coming year.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)