The Israeli Police force have long been seen as the Cinderella of Public Service: abused, ridiculed, and overworked, but potentially capable of delivering great things if only Prince Charming came along. Some of the key factors include the priority given to the army, and the consequential drain of much of the talent in that direction. It’s also exacerbated by the higher pay on offer in the army.
But Cinderella has a criminal record. There have been frequent cases of corruption, and a dreadful series of sexual harassment episodes among the senior ranks. (Heaven knows what it’s like elsewhere, in the lower ranks.)
Unsurprisingly, the politicians have come to the conclusion that the problem with the Police is the Police. The culture must be changed. And the best chance of change, it is suggested, is by having someone who has never been a policeman, in charge of the Police. There are, inevitably, a number of challenges to overcome.
For example, what message does send to the high ranking policemen about their capability and future? It may be deserved in some cases, but it doesn’t exactly incentivize them.
For example, many high-ranking police officers have opposed an external appointment, so there is already inbuilt automatic resistance to change from that source.
As another example, how can a newcomer be expected to understand the job without experience of policing?
So there are challenges.
Then the candidate for
Prince Charming Police Commissioner is selected. Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has nominated Israel Defense Forces Brig. Gen. (res.) Gal Hirsch to be the next Police Commissioner.
The challenges increase. Why?
As reported by the Times of Israel:
“… Hirsch doesn’t have a squeaky clean record either. On Friday, Israel’s Chanel 2 reported that the FBI had conducted a two-year undercover investigation into Hirsch’s past business dealings. Hirsch is CEO of Defensive Shield Holdings, a consulting company that provide defense and homeland security solutions.
Documents provided by the FBI indicate that the company is being investigated on possible tax evasion and bribery charges involving arms deals. The FBI notified the police about the probe in 2013, but they only passed the information along to the attorney general a little over a week ago, according to Haaretz, around the time that Hirsch’s nomination was announced.”
Hirsch says it is nonsense, and an attempt at sabotaging his appointment. But there’s more:
“On another front, families of soldiers killed during the Second Lebanon War have said his role in that month-long offensive should disqualify him. In 2006, the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah in territory controlled by Hirsch’s division triggered the war and scuppered a promising military career for the then-commander.”
I have heard suggestions that Hirsch is an impressive candidate who can talk the talk, and personally inspire people. But walk the walk? The downside, apparently, is that he is not a manager, and the implementation is much harder than the theory, no matter how good the theory is. So, from a purely professional assessment, it is said he may not be able to deliver the desired change. At the same time, while insiders are talking about other candidates, there doesn’t appear to be anybody obvious as a serious alternative.
The situation is still in what might be termed a state of flux, though (so far) Erdan and Netanyahu remain as backers of Hirsch.
The Times of Israel sees it as a soap opera. I think I prefer that to farce.