For the first time, a new police station will combine patrol, security and community issues in a single center in order to provide residents with an address to deal with all their needs in the security and social service areas – and that station is being set up in the Shuafat refugee camp near Yerushalayim. The station was opened Sunday in a gala event, with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Israel Police Chief Roni Alsheich, Yerushalayim Mayor Nir Barkat, and municipal and community officials all in attendance.
Some 80,000 people live in Shuafat, and until now police services were provided by officers from stations outside the neighborhood – leading to what many local officials have called an epidemic of crime, Israel Radio said. The report quoted officials as saying that they welcomed – and had long demanded – a stronger police presence in order to control the armed gangs that preyed upon innocent residents who were unable to count on help from Israeli police – who were often reluctant to enter the area due to the possibility that they would face a riot. Regardless of their feelings about whether or not there should be a Palestinian state, personal security required a strong police presence, they said.
The new center is part of a plan by Erdan to increase the police presence in Arab areas. The station will provide not only patrols and policing services, but will also feature representatives of offices providing municipal and national services, such as representatives to discuss building permits, taxes and other relevant issues. The idea is to not only increase the feeling of security among residents, Erdan said at the inauguration ceremony for the station Sunday, but to provide an address for residents to turn to when they needed help.
“Today we are taking a great step forward in providing police services for the Arab sector,” said Erdan. “Law and order is a necessity in all parts of Yerushalayim, and there is no better time for the inauguration of a center like this than on the 50th anniversary of the unification of the city,” he said, adding that he planned to open similar stations in other Arab neighborhoods in the city.