A delegation of American police chiefs are headed off to Israel in a counterintelligence training program facilitated by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a pro-Israel, left-wing US-based Jewish organization.
Some of the police chiefs are coming from cities recently affected by Islamic terrorism, including San Bernardino and Orlando.
In the week-long event, the National Counter-Terrorism Seminar, American police chiefs will work with Israeli security experts, learning new methods and techniques to track down jihadists and stop terror attacks.
“We bring top-level law enforcement from the States to Israel to learn about civil society here, the role that law enforcement plays in terms of protecting communities with regard to terrorism, and to provide a better sense to American law enforcement about Israel,” stated Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism. “US law enforcement officials can learn some lessons about what it’s like to be in law enforcement here in Israel, and the unique threats and unique experience.”
One of the ADL’s stated goals in this program involves changing America’s often reductive perception of Israeli civil society.
“Like many people in the States, law enforcement officials who have not visited have a perception of Israel that they get from the media,” added Segal. “To actually bring people here to experience the day-to-day and learn from academics and Israeli police officials... makes the State of Israel a little more real to them, and they get a better sense of what life is really like here.”
The American delegation appeared excited about the trip, eager to learn more about how to help keep their communities safe.
In particular, Orlando Police Chief John Mina, the head law enforcement official responsible for overseeing the investigation into the devastating ISIS-inspired gay night club shooting, said that he was "ready to learn more from Israeli police.”
“After what happened, it made me want to come to Israel even more, just to learn more from the Israeli Police to see how they deal with terrorism, how they respond to it, and see what their training is like,” he noted. “We have great respect for the way things are done over here by the Israeli police. Unfortunately, it seems like there are so many attacks that they have a clear sense of what they’re dealing with. We have great respect for how they approach terrorism, and how they train and respond to it."
People in the States are using social media and getting this idea in their heads to carry out their own attacks.
That is one of our greatest threats right now, and Israel is excellent at dealing with that.
I like the way the Israeli Police pretty much go right after the threat, and in the US we are heading in the same direction, especially with our situation. Also, over here they don’t negotiate [with terrorists], and I think that’s the way to go.
Mina also talked about the horrific gay night club shooting, a tragic event his community is still trying to recover from:
For us, this went from an active-shooter situation to a barricaded gunman holding hostages to a terrorist situation within the first hour. From my perspective, I think our police response was good and we saved many, many people from inside the Pulse Night Club. But there will always be situations where, as we compile more information, we will certainly share it [with the public].
People need to be aware of their surroundings at all times. Officers in uniform are being targeted as well. I believe that it starts over here [in the Middle East] and kind of carries over to the United States.
Despite personal animosity between US President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it looks like US-Israeli relations are still strong. Both US law enforcement authorities and Israeli counter-terror officials still agree that intelligence sharing and joint-security exercises are essential to the welfare and safety of both Western-minded democracies.