Rishon Leziyon Police Station, Israel

Rishon Leziyon Police Station (RLPS), Israel, was the second finalist in the 2012 IACP-Cisco Community Policing Award for departments serving populations of 250,000 and above. In the tradition of IACP's Community Policing Committee an effort is made to present the award at a local event to achieve further recognition, publicize the award and bolster the work of the police department and its community partners.

The RLPS serves a community of 320,000 residents, and it serves two cities; Rishon Leziyon, which is the 4th largest city in Israel, and Nes-Tziona. In addition, two regional counties, Gan Rave and Emeq Lod, and one local community, Bet Dagan, also fall within the jurisdiction of Rishon Leziyon. Within the station's responsibility are commercial and industrial facilities, shopping malls, military bases, and two beaches. The most prevalent crimes are property crime, use of narcotics, violent crime, juvenile crime, domestic violence, gambling, and prostitution. The RLPS has 240 officers and relies on a force multiplier of 1400 authorized volunteers (sworn while on duty). Volunteers operate in an integrated manner; participate in monthly meetings with community leaders, organizing youth sporting events during summer vacation and holidays, and building relationships with other city municipality organizations, such as educational institutes, fire departments, and hospitals.

Reductions in burglary and positive impacts on drug use and distribution have both been realized through this particular deployment strategy of using volunteers. The officers and volunteers serve together as a direct line of communication between the community and agency leadership. The RLPS recognizes that no police department can stand alone without the assistance and full cooperation of the community in which they are policing, and this is a philosophy that the department integrates into their daily practice.

The Israel Police Liaison to North America, Brigadier General Menashe Arviv received the award last October at the IACP conference in San Diego. I had the honor to represent Todd Miller (IACP's Community Policing Committee Chair) and the entire committee to present the award in person to the RLPS. The event took place at the station as part of an initiative called "Turnaround" where the police commissioner visits 140 police stations and units from north to south during a period of five weeks to assess their progress and meet with them in person.

The Israel Police is comprised of approximately 28,000 officers in 7 districts (including the Border Guard) deployed in 80 stations and sub stations across the State of Israel. It was rather timely that my visit to Israel coincided with the commissioner's Turnaround tour of the country's police force. The ceremony started with a fitting tribute (commissioner's certificate) to Vicki and Itzhak Kimchi, a senior couple who made their apartment available for the use of the RLPS detectives to catch brazen burglars who targeted senior citizens.

Since this was the first time that an Israel Police station received an IACP community policing recognition, the commissioner asked me to describe the nature of the award and I happily articulated its intent, purpose, history, structure and process and emphasized its competitive and prestigious nature. The event was held with many of the station's officers and volunteers attending in a packed hall.

I mentioned that the IACP community policing committee conducted a highly competitive selection process where the committee was able to review applicants from the U.S. and other countries to determine best practices in community policing. I added that the RLPS application represented key principles of community policing: it has built partnerships, it is proactive, they rely heavily on community volunteers, and they aim at minimizing the production of crime. I was proud to present the award to Chief Superintendent Itzhak Menashe (RLPS chief) and Israel Police Commissioner Yochanan Danino.

It was heartwarming to evidence the outpouring of enthusiastic cheers of officers and citizens alike and their pride in their police station was easy to recognize. They appreciated the RLPS being the groundbreaking recipient of this important international recognition. The Israel Police has already posted a brief blog on its Facebook page which includes a photo of the station chief (see link).

Enclosed is a photo (L-R): Chief Superintendent Itzhak Menashe, Chief of RLPS; Prof. Robbie Friedmann, IACP Community Policing Committee Member; Lt. General Yochanan Danino, Commissioner, Israel Police. It is appropriate to mention that the application was submitted by the former RLPS chief, Commander Alon Arieh who is currently the chief of the Nenatya Police. I would like to add some personal observations.

Within a period of three weeks I was able to present the IACP Community Policing award to two finalists in the category of cities with populations of 250,000 and above. While the distance between Riverside, California, and Rishon Leziyon, Israel, is 7,500 miles, they are almost on the same latitude (33 degrees and 32 degrees, respectively), close to the beach and with very similar temperatures in December/January. I arrived in Israel for a couple of days of stormy weather but since then it has been a sunny week with temperatures in the low '70s and the beaches were full of people enjoying a sun tan like this was mid-summer.

It was amusing to hear Israelis complain about the tedious length of the upcoming parliamentary elections (about five weeks) and evidence their surprise when they learned it was a bit longer in the U.S. (two years). Despite the cultural and demographic differences what was also common is that the Riverside PD and the RLPS tackled similar crime problems by relying on proven community policing principles and were able to show results.

It was indeed an honor and a pleasure to personally present the IACP 2012 Finalist Award to RLPS Chief Itzhak Menashe and to Israel Police Commissioner Yochanan Danino and I want to express my gratitude for their outstanding hospitality. It was great to meet a group of dedicated public servants and their community partners and I wish them all continued success.

Dr. Robbie Friedmann, Professor Emeritus of Criminal Justice, GILEE Founding Director, Georgia State University


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David Take a look at my blog to find out more about community policing and why it is necessary for our professional future. For more, follow my blog at http://improvingpolice.wordpress.com.
January 4th at 1:29PM ET