(JNi.media) Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) on Tuesday announced his choice for new police chief, IDF Brigadier General (Res) Gal Hirsch. The nomination was surprising and certainly shocked the police brass. But both the police leaders, who have been passed for an outsider for the top job, and the new commissioner, now must face a number of major challenges, most urgent of which is the reconstruction of a dejected, demoralized force, plagued by corruption—and the restoration of public confidence, which has dropped to an unprecedented low.
In the past year, the police has suffered severe blows to its image, including a series of sex scandals involving Police Generals Nisso Shaham and Hagai Dotan, and Deputy Police Chief Nissim Mor, who were dismissed for sexual offenses against junior police officers.
On Tuesday night, Minister Erdan outlined for NRG the work awaiting the new commissioner: “I composed a 15-point document which includes the fight against traffic accidents, in which Israel is placed in an uncomplimentary spot, as well as improved intelligence — with a focus on the Internet. He will have to implement these points. In addition there horizontal issues, mainly strengthening stations and field personnel, while simultaneously reducing command staff.”
Another loss of public confidence in the police stemmed from the abysmal failure of the 100 Center (Israel’s 911) to identify and respond properly to a distress call from the three Jewish boys who had been kidnapped by Hamas in Judea and Samaria, and were killed shortly thereafter.
Erdan said on Tuesday: “I expect a change in the area of deployment of police services in the Arab sector, opening more stations and connecting with the Arab leadership. The whole issue of police service in the non-Jewish sector, is also something the other side is interested in. Another thing is the increased police presence. I fought for it in the budget, and the new commissioner will have to make a plan to deploy more policemen on the streets.”
Commenting on the motives that led to Hirsch’s appointment, the Minister mentioned his disappointment in the police conduct at the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade, which convinced him to appoint someone from outside the ranks. Erdan said: “What happened at the gay parade is one of the main reasons [to seek a commissioner from outside the force], but not the only one. In the three months since I took office, I’ve been exposed to problematic issues. I read in the latest report about some very difficult problems all the way within the organization, and here and there even encountered them directly.”
Erdan added: “I do not think that three months is sufficient time to get to know such an organization and the people in it, but when I saw the extent of the problems, I understood that only someone who comes from the outside has a chance to make a change. This is a move that is so difficult in these organizations, and I’m talking about fundamental changes, like discipline, organizational norms, and other areas on these levels.”