Israel Police to Follow US Trend, Equip Officers With Body Cams in 2016
Israeli police officers will join their peers across the Atlantic in 2016 and begin to don a “body cam” when they head out to the field.
In the United States, the use of the tiny video cameras worn on police uniforms became part of standard policy after the controversy over the 2014 Ferguson Police shooting of a young, large teen who was attacking the officer.
But the practice actually became policy in some departments even earlier: in the city of Oakland, California, police report a 72 percent drop in “use-of-force incidents” five years after starting to outfit officer with body cams. NYPD began piloting a similar project just over a year ago, with similar results.
“The decision was made due to an understanding of the effectiveness of using personal cameras on police officers,” said Israel Police on Wednesday. The department said the practice is being used to increase “transparency in the work of the police and as an important tool in building trust in the contact between officer and citizen.”
The plan was first advanced in a proposal to the Knesset by Likud MK Avraham Neguise last May. Neguise recommended that police officers wear body cameras while making arrests.
The recommendation came in response to the brouhaha that erupted following publicity surrounding footage in April that showed two police officers beating an IDF soldier of Ethiopian heritage, Damas Pakada, in Holon.
Neguise introduced the bill as a way to “solve the problem of police brutality directed against those in Israel with Ethiopian origin, and against other citizens in general… [it will also] reduce the number of false complaints of police brutality” as well, he added.
The nomination of former senior IDF officer Gal Hirsch to head the police force is sending shock waves through the police who will have to deal with a commander untainted by corruption or sex scandals. Hirsch even thinks terrorists should be shot.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan of the Likud nominated Hirsch last night, one day after the minister wrote a letter to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon calling on him to bar two radical Muslim groups from entering the Temple Mount, where they are paid to harass and attack Jews.
The two moves are related. Both of them reflect Erdan’s no-nonsense approach to the police allowing anarchy at Judaism’s most holy site and to a moral decaying police force that is viewed with disgust by most of the public. Hirsch is to replace Yohanan Danino, whose weeks-long farewell extravaganza were the tasteless icing on an unsavory cake of egocentricity.
Hirsch, whose nomination must be approved by the government and a non-governmental committee before he can take over as police chief, brings with him a far from perfect past, particularly because of his alleged failure at the beginning of the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
The 51-year-old general left the IDF three years ago and now is chairman of an educational NGO and a consulting company. The Winograd Committee that investigated the IDF’s management of the war concluded that Hirsch was not to blame for events that set off the war, the kidnapping and murder of reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev by Hezbollah
Erdan candidly explained that he could not find someone within the police force who satisfied his requirements to head the law enforcement agency.
He referred to corruption scandals and sexual harassment by several senior police officers, but he had no need to clarify his reasons.
The image of the police is filthy, and the most recent blunder was the police allowing a known maniac with hate for homosexuals to walk freely at a homosexual parade in Jerusalem earlier this month, even though he was fresh out of jail and was an obvious suspect to attack people at the parade.
He now faces a charge of murdering a teenage girl whom he stabbed to death. He also knifed several other people at the parade.
Erdan, in a gross understatement, said that the public’s trust in the police has suffered “much damage.”
Top police officers, including at least one who thought he should be appointed as new commander, are furious at Erdan for naming someone from outside the clubhouse.
The police may have to get used to a new kind of policy, one that has zero tolerance for sexual harassment, brutality, especially against Arabs and right-wing Jews, and corruption.
Perhaps Hirsch might even be able to improve the traffic police, who know how to set radar traps and then set the wrong example for motorists by speeding when they are finished handing out tickets.
A Jerusalem court handed down a sentence of six months of community service, without a jail sentence, to a policeman convicted of a brutal beating of a protester during the expulsion of residents of Amona in 2006.
Even the judge, Moti Polik, criticized the prosecution for not demanding a harsher sentence for the policemen Moti Mahagar.
IT took nine years before Israel’s screwy judicial system finally handed down the sentence, a year after the conviction and nine years after the crime.
Mahagar would not have been indicted if it weren’t for a video that showed him relentlessly using a club to beat victims entrenched in buildings during the expulsion in Samaria.
Oh yes, Mahagar also was scalped with a fine, a grand total of $7819.53 (30,000 shekels), according to today’s official exchange rate.
Police have finally fired the officer who was caught on video assaulting Damas Pakada and then arresting him for supposedly having attacked him.
Police commissioner Yochanan Danino explained that the unidentified police officer was not dismissed immediately because he “made several claims” and that discussions on in the incident included legal advisers.
The broadcast of the video of the assault set off violent protests by the Ethiopian community against police brutality and racism.
The fired police office still faces possible criminal charges, which Danino said are pending the outcome of an investigation and if there is enough evidence to indict him.
The video shows that the police officer approached Pakada, who was on a sidewalk with his bicycle, spoke to him and within one second started beating him.
The deputy mayor of Tel Aviv is Ethiopian. There have been 7 Ethiopian Knesset members. There are Ethiopian IDF officers. There are Ethiopian doctors, athletes and actors.
While the path has not been easy for them, and there’s still more to do, Israel did and is doing an amazing job integrating Ethiopian Jews into Israeli society.
The problem is not how Israeli society treats Ethiopians.
The problem is not how the Israeli police treat Ethiopians.
The problem is how the Israeli police treat everyone.
As investigation after investigation, and scandal after scandal exposes, the Israeli police are violent, they are corrupt, they are misogynists, and as the Israeli joke goes, if the Israeli police weren’t wearing uniforms, they’d be the criminals.
Last week’s police brutality against the Ethiopian IDF soldier was just one more case in a long string of cases of police brutality.
I’ve witnessed police brutality at protests. I’ve experienced it at protests, to personal injury.
My fellow blogger Jameel was nearly killed by a policeman at Gush Katif in front of my eyes. (And mind you, for those who remember that story, we had written permission from some very high ranking Ministry of Defense officials to be where we were).
Only the fast interception by a Druse policeman stopped the violent policeman’s truncheon from smashing Jameel’s head open like a watermelon. And the oblivious-turned-shocked Jameel, who had been just standing there looking the other way, didn’t even know he was almost killed, until he turned around from the noise and saw the Druse policeman blocking the violent policeman’s deadly swing.
The Israeli police need to be cleaned out from top to bottom.
They should start with Machash – the Police’s Internal Investigations unit, who as my friends (who have been victims of police violence) can attest to, are not interested in investigating the violent policemen and getting rid of them.
I will finish up with one story.
During the anti-Oslo protests in the 90s, the police would suddenly get extremely violent, rushing out at us, beating people up, and so on – even though the protesters were not violent at all.
We learned to expect it.
But one day, at one protest, it didn’t happen.
The police were just sitting there on their horses. The water canons weren’t blasting, and the protest was allowed to complete itself non-violently – as it was supposed to.
Quite surprised at the lack of police violence that I was used to seeing and experiencing, I (brazenly/stupidly) went over to one policeman on his horse and sarcastically asked him, “Why aren’t you beating us up? Usually this is when you get violent.”
I was surprised to receive an honest answer.
The policeman said, “We received orders to not attack you this time.”
Police said Monday morning that anarchists incited protesters to violence in last night’s march in Tel Aviv against police brutality and racism, undermining the demonstrators’ objectives.
Protesters were armed with rocks and metal objects which they hurled at police officers, 56 of whom were injured lightly. Police arrested 43 demonstrators and hurled stun grenades in the middle of a crowd blocking a major artery at rush-hour in Tel Aviv.
Both a senior police official and “Elazar,” who made Aliyah from Ethiopia years before the massive airlift in Operation Shlomo, told Voice of Israel radio (Reshet Bet) that the protest turned violent partly because of anarchists, whom the interviewer later said could be “leftists or rightists,” although the term “right-wing anarchist” in Israel is almost contradictory.
Left-wing elements, many of them funded by American Jews and non-Jews, often have been accused of inciting Arabs and illegal African immigrants to violence.
The charge of “racism,” which undoubtedly is true but not always to the Nth degree as sometimes described, is a good way to rile up the riff-raff. That is exactly what happened last night.
Mahratta Baruch-Ron, the deputy mayor Tel Aviv and an Ethiopian, tried to calm down the protesters, but to no avail; the anarchists and trouble-makers took over.
Like last week’s protest in Jerusalem that turned violent when nearly 1,000 protesters surged towards to the official residence of the Prime Minister, last night’s demonstration lacked responsible leadership.
Police did not interfere Sunday night even when protesters blocked major arteries near Rabin Square in downtown Tel Aviv, and it appeared that some people in the crowd were itching for a fight by deciding to proceed towards the high-speed intra-city Ayalon Highway.
Yediot Acharonot, which never misses an opportunity to whitewash leftist criminals and find cause against Netanyahu, reported that “social activists” joined the protesters.
The protests were sparked by a video shown on Israeli television last week of two policemen assaulting, without any provocation, an Ethiopian soldier, who was clad with kippa. Discrimination against Ethiopians is widespread while the police show no discrimination when it comes to excessive violence.
The protesters have concentrated on racism, while political leaders, including Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) chairman Naftali Bennett, have hitched a ride on the “race card” rather than pursuing the opportunity to demand massive reform in the police force.
The plagues of racism and violence against police, as well as police violence against civilians, elicited an immediate response from Prime Minister Netanyahu.
He is meeting Monday with Ethiopian community representatives, soldier Damas Pakada who was filmed being beaten by the policemen. Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino, and representatives of the Public Security, Social Affairs and Social Services, Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, and Interior ministries.
They will make statements announcing funding for projects aimed at the Ethiopian community and will ignore police brutality.
The new protest movement is continuing Monday morning with a march in Jerusalem. Travelers are advised that major arteries, including Sderot Herzl, Rabin, Shazar, Ben Tzvi and Ruppin are closed as of 11 a.m.
The U.S. Embassy yesterday warned citizens that protests that are “intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence” and advised, “You should avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.”
Below, an Ethiopian protester tells Channel 2, in Hebrew, that outside inciters turned the peaceful march into a violent riot.
Arab Knesset Members have announced they will join Ethiopians on Sunday in another protest against police violence and alleged racism.
A peaceful march last week turned violent when nearly 1,000 angry Ethiopians surfed towards the official residence of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu near downtown Jerusalem. Police at the scene used stun guns and water cannons to disperse the crowd after the demonstrators refused to retreat. The demonstrators pelted police with bottles and rocks.
The Ethiopian community is enraged over the exposure last week of two policemen in Holon, adjacent to Tel Aviv, beating an Ethiopian soldier, who was wearing a kippa, for no apparent reason.
Police arrested the soldier for supposedly having attacked them, but the video forced law enforcement officials to drop the charge and apologize. They also said that the two policemen, one of them a volunteer, have been suspended and that their actions do not reflect the values of the police.
The Ethiopian community is not buying the mea culpa and plans to protest today near Tel Aviv’s Azriella Towers, home of the fanciest malls in Israel.
At least two Arab Knesset Members, Ayman Odeh and Ahmed Tibi, have called on Arabs, who claim that police discriminate against them, to join the demonstration.
The Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party has not commented, despite thousands of incidents of police violence exercised against innocent settlers.
Nor have the bleeding heart left-wingers, who usually never miss the opportunity to show their support for minorities, uttered a word.
Hareidi leaders also have remained silent although they have plenty of reasons to complain about excess police violence.
Ethiopian leaders allege that police discriminate against them, but the silence from mainstream Israel indicates that the bias may be a lot deeper.