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Police Reform

In an attempt to analyze the growth of organized crime and the degree of effectiveness of the police, in 1977 the government appointed a Commission to Examine the Topic of Crime in Israel, known as the Shimron Commission. The group's report cited many shortcomings in the Israel Police, including the neglect of training, especially of investigators, high turnover, weak enforcement of traffic laws, a need for improved community relations, lack of communications and transportation equipment, poor supervision of precinct operations, and duplication of activities between national and district headquarters. Many of the administrative reorganizations recommended by the Shimron Commission were adopted, but implementation of major reforms lagged. In early 1980, the unusual step was taken of introducing an outsider, General Herzl Shafir, a recently retired IDF officer, as inspector general. Following an intensive six-month study of police problems, Shafir developed a five-year strategy to reorganize the police. Known as Tirosh (new wine), the strategy included plans for the expanded use of computers to determine the most efficient employment of manpower and resources; innovative approaches to community relations; the routine rotation of personnel to counter staleness and petty corruption; major redeployment of police resources, including 2,000 new policemen to patrol 800 new local beats; the establishment of forty-five new police stations, many of them in Arab communities of Israel; and a 40 percent cutback in administrative personnel.

After one year in office, Shafir was dismissed on the ground of inability to accept civilian control. He had demonstrated political insensitivity by ordering a police raid on the files of the Ministry of Religious Affairs to investigate suspicions of fraud and bribery involving the minister. Despite the institution of many aspects of the Tirosh program, the lack of strong leadership after Shafir's departure thwarted the comprehensive reforms that he had advocated. In particular, Shafir's vision of transplanting the high esprit de corps of the IDF to the Israel Police failed; morale, which had surged as a result of his efforts, reportedly sank back to its previous low state.

Data as of December 1988