Article - Israel Police
The verse "Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates" (Deut. 16: 18) is but one of many biblical references to the duties of the policeman - an office that has existed for over a thousand years. The concept and duties of the constable then were very different from those of our own day, but there have always been tasks which were common to those early days and to the industrialized, urbanized world of our own times,
The birth of the Israel Police Force predates the establishment of the State, going back to the time of the bloody riots that marked the closing period of the British Mandate and the War of Independence. The Jewish Police Force was created on the instruction of Ben-Gurion, then Head of the Jewish Agency Executive, who, on March 26, 1948, ordered a group of officers "to proceed immediately to the organizing of a Jewish Police Force throughout the whole area of the Jewish State." This group was headed by the late Bekhor Shalom Shitreet, who subsequently served as Israel's first Minister of Police, and Yehezkel Sahar and Joseph Nahmias who served respectively as the first and second Inspectors-General of the Force.
The Mandatory Police were not interested in handing over power in an orderly manner and left behind them a State bordering on chaos. Many of the police stations were handed over to the Arabs while others were left almost deserted. The only equipment left behind were scraps of laboratory equipment and some obsolete weapons and vehicles. All valuable criminal records were either carried off or else left lying around to be looted or lost, while to make the situation even more difficult for the Jewish population, large numbers of criminals were set free to join the Arab murder gangs.
The Jewish Authorities issued orders to some 700 men of the Jewish Police to serve from police stations around the country and this small, poorly-equipped force succeeded in maintaining order and internal security while the War of Independence raged. At the end of 1948, the Force already numbered 1,882 men.
The functions and tasks of the Israel Police in the modern society of our democratic State are clearly defined in a series of laws and include the preservation of public order and internal security, the investigation of crime and protection of the individual's safety and property. The Israel Police is a national country-wide force and its National Headquarters are divided into three Departments - Operations, Investigations and Administration. Geographically, the country is divided into three Districts - the Northern District, the Tel Aviv District, and the Southern District. These Districts are divided in turn into sub-Districts, and Stations. Units of the Border Police and the Civil Guard are working side by side with these regular police formations.
In its early days, the organization and operational methods of the Force were closely patterned on those of the Mandatory Police, but in the course of time, the Force developed its own original solutions to the specific problems of preserving public order and internal security facing the young State.
It was in the year 1951 that the first three companies of the "Frontier Police" were formed and they, in turn, constituted the basis of the Border Guard which was established in 1953. Throughout the years, the Border Guard have carried out their duties along the length of Israel's borders while today, companies of the Force are also stationed in the large cities, ports and in the Administered Areas where they assist in the maintenance of public order and the protection of internal security. Following the increase in terrorist activity after the Yom Kippur War, the Civil Guard was set up in 1974 attached to the Police, which was given the responsibility for protecting internal security. The Guard with its force of some 100,000 active volunteers has made its own significant contribution to the internal security of the State and has become part of the scene in cities, development towns, villages and kibbutzim. By the end of 1976, the Police Force had reached 13,377 regular police, augmented by local police in the Administered Areas, - auxiliaries and temporary supernumerary police.
The Police is developing scientific methods of investigation making use of the newest technologies and have a number of outstanding achievements to their credit, using the latest scientific and criminological techniques to solve the wide range of problems that they are called upon to tackle. The Force has developed its own resources and original methods in addition to adopting relevant techniques used by the most advanced Forces in the world.
The history of the Israel Police Force faithfully reflects the turbulent history of the State - the political storms and disturbances, terrorist action, wars and national disasters. The bare figures of police activity in the spheres of internal security, crime prevention and investigation, the preservation of public order and directing traffic do not adequately reflect the vast amount of work put in by the Force which has been estimated at millions of operations concerned with most aspects of life in Israel. The Force's high standard of alertness and its operational and organizational skills coupled with its ability to adapt itself to changing conditions and situations have been amply demonstrated whenever the State has found itself faced with an emergency situation.
The three stamps depict the Israel Police; the Frontier Guard; and the Civil Guard. The tab inscription is: "Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep" (Psalms 121: 4).