Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich elicited audible gasps among a gathering of lawyers Tuesday when he said it was “natural” for law enforcement officials to be more suspicious of Ethiopians and other migrants than the general population.
“All over the world, it is proven that migrants are more involved in crime than others.
Younger people are more involved in crime than others.
When the two things go together, a particular group is more involved in crime,” he said at the Israel Bar Association Conference at the David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv. Alsheich was responding to a member of the audience who asked why there is more police violence against Ethiopian-Israelis.
“This also goes for Arabs… and also in east Jerusalem,” Alsheich continued. “When a policeman meets a suspect [of Ethiopian descent or other groups with higher crime rates], naturally he is more suspicious than with others.
We know this. We have started to deal with this.”
The police chief said, however, that the Ethiopian community’s faith in the police is at a high, despite some public battles. This, he said, is because the issue is being addressed by reducing “over-policing” and dropping low-grade cases in which Ethiopians were arrested because of friction with police but no other criminal suspicion.