Renowned Israeli Expert Slashed U.S. Crime Rates. Why Isn’t Israel Police Following His Lead?

Prof. David Weisburd, laureate of the 2015 Israel Prize for criminology, is one of the world’s most prominent researchers on fighting crime. As violence within Israeli Arab communities continues to rise, prompting protests over insufficient police response to violence crime, he tells Haaretz: “Lowering crime rate is possible. There is no perfect plan, but with strategy that has proved itself abroad, it can happen. We are no different than other countries.”

But while law enforcement agencies across the world seek to consult this Hebrew University criminologist, the Israeli police has yet to contact him. “Maybe because a permanent police commissioner hasn't been appointed yet,” says Weisburd.

Just before Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan’s meeting with members of the Joint List alliance of Arab-majority parties, and after the number of murder victims in the Arab community exceeded 70 this year, Erdan’s advisers did pick up the phone to call Weisburd.

On Tuesday another man was killed in the Arab village of Ara in central Israeli, raising this year’s death toll in the Arab community to 75.

Demonstrators march in front the Israel Police headquarters in Ramle, central Israel, October 15, 2019.Moti Milrod

The strategy Weisburd proposes, for which he received the prestigious Stockholm Prize in Criminology, and that he teaches at George Mason University in Virginia, is known as “focused deterrence.” The method, which sounds rather simple, was developed by Weisburd and his colleagues at the Hebrew University and is based on the police focusing on so-called hot spots and main crime factors.