The campaign to recruit Muslim police officers
Despite the societal taboo and previously low levels of interest, a recent media campaign aimed at recruiting police officers from the Arab and Muslim sector has begוn to demonstrate progress, with a 290% increase in résumé submission in the last year alone. Increase in interest comes as Arab officers earn high-profile promotions in rank and job.
However, according to data received by Yedioth Ahronoth, Ynet's sister publication, 2016 has seen a wave of interest among Muslim candidates to the police. The amount of résumés submitted by Muslim applicants has increased 290% over the past year.
Currently, Muslim officers make up less than 2% of the Israel's police force. In 2015, there were only 431 Muslim police officers out of a national police force of 28,663, a rate that is 12 times less than their share of the population.
Until 2016, interest among Muslim citizens in joining the police was on the decline. Out of the average 18,000 resumes the police receive every year, in 2013, only 803 were from Muslims. In 2014, that number decreased to 687, while in 2015, the amount stood at 543. However, during the period between January-August 2016, 1,420 resumes of Muslim candidates were submitted to the police, an increase of almost four times the amount of candidates registered last year.
Cdr. Amir Ratzon, the director of the Manpower Directorate of the Israel Police, told Yedioth Ahronoth, "We are witnesses to a wave of interest amongst the Muslim population to join the police. We are seeing a shift in this population segment and we are focusing on absorbing these new officers in the most efficient way possible."
The police attribute the renewed interest in the police to an improvement of services in the Arab sector. This has been a focus of Minister of Internal Security Gilad Erdan and the Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh. According to the two, the appointment of Hakrush has also raised motivation among the Muslim sector.
A change has even been observed at the level of junior officers. For example, last week saw Dunya Nasser become the highest ranking Muslim female police officer after she was promoted to the rank of superintendant. Nasser, a resident of Tu'ran and mother of three, is now the commander of community cooperation and outreach at police headquarters.
Chief Superintendent Liat Tshuva Cohen, head of police central recruiting, said administration started taking steps to bolster recruitment among the Arab sector by disseminating information, opening information centers in Arab cities and villages and starting preparation classes for interested candidates in order to help with tests.
Even interest among the general public is currently undergoing a change. In the middle of August, police began a campaign of media recruitment, which saw the average resume submission rate increase from approximately 60 a day, to 600 a day.
In addition to a general campaign for the Hebrew-speaking public, a targeted campaign of Arabic-speaking citizens is also expected to raise awareness and increase the number of recruits. Annual new recruits currently stand at roughly 2,000-2,500, while the number of officers retiring stands at 900-1,000. By the end of August, 1,321 officers had been recruited and police expect that number is surpass 2,000 by the year's end.
Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan commented, "The sharp increase in the number of young people joining the police does not surprise me. Last year, we led to fight to significantly raise salary. The police make a serious contribution to national security and public safety, and the interest in the police brings more and more quality recruits who see the police as an excellent place to serve."