September 06, 2002
Ten high-ranking law enforcement officers from several major U.S. cities traveled to Israel from August 19-23, 2002 for an intense, five-day program with their Israeli law enforcement counterparts. The purpose of the trip was to promote dialogue and the exchange of "best practice" knowledge and expertise on deterring and responding to acts of terrorism. This first JINSA Law Enforcement Exchange was initiated through the suggestion of Chief Louis Anemone, Director of Security, Metropolitan Transit Authority, New York and the former Chief of Department of the NYPD.
Participants in the exchange were:
- Chief Anemone
- Sheriff Kevin Beary of Orange County, FL, President of the Major County Sheriff's Association
- Chief Michael Berkow of Irvine, CA, representing the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF)
- Deputy Chief Michael Bostic, Los Angeles Police Department
- Nicholas Casale, Deputy Director of Security of the Metropolitan Transit Authority
- Chief Ralph Mendoza of Fort Worth, Texas
- Chief Joseph Morris of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department
- Chief Joseph Polisar of Garden Grove, CA, Vice President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police
- Major John Skinner, Commanding Officer of the Baltimore Police Department's criminal intelligence section
The group was accompanied by former Assistant FBI Director Steven Pomerantz, currently of JINSA's Board of Advisors, and Marsha Halteman, JINSA's Director of Corporate/Community Programs.
A Comprehensive Program
In organizing the program, JINSA met with full cooperation from Israel's highest security corridors, including Minister of Public Security Uzi Landau and National Police Commissioner Shlomo Aharonishsky. Dr. Landau said of the JINSA program, "There is no doubt that a sharing of tactics and strategy between US and Israeli law enforcement agencies can only produce improved results in our common fight against domestic and global terrorism." He added that this program was typical of the long tradition of assistance and support between the two countries, citing the "excellent cooperation and partnership on defense issues and security technology."
Officers were briefed by the Israelis on the integral role of "First Responders" during terrorist strikes. The Americans observed methods and techniques used by Israeli police forces in preventing and reacting to suicide bombings and other forms of terrorism including bomb disposal, forensics, crowd control, and coordination with the media and the public.
The program in Israel focused on several areas of security: intelligence gathering and operations to capture terrorists before they begin their operations; border security, mechanisms to delay terrorists on their way to a target such as checkpoints; and site security - the protection of the restaurants, shopping malls and buses that are the preferred terrorist targets.
Aside from their hosts, the JINSA group spent many intensive hours meeting with a broad cross section of Israel's highest-level law enforcement and counter-terrorism officers, including:
- Major General David Tsur of the Ministry of Public Security's Operational Unit
The group also was also briefed and hosted for dinner by Mr. Doron Bergerbest, Head of the Protection and Security Division of the Israel Security Agency, and ended their time in Jerusalem meeting with Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert.
In Tel Aviv, the officers met with Major General Yossi Sedbon, Commander of the Tel Aviv Police District and Brigadier General Uri Bar-Lev, Commander of the Yarkon Police Sub-district, as well as Major General Esther Dominicini, Director of Community Policing and Civil Guard Department Stations and in the Ministry of Defense with Major General Dan Harel, the IDF's Commander of Operations. Dr. Boaz Ganor, Director of The International Policy Institute for Counter Terrorism, analyzed al Qaeda, the global terrorism network and future implications for American homeland security.
Since October 2000, Israel Police and the IDF have documented over 14,000 terrorist attempts.
During the action-packed week, the officers traveled throughout the country visiting police and IDF outposts and to study Israel's Border Guard operations in the Galilee and the West Bank, where Border Guard Commanders Dan Kuffler and Dan Lan hosted them. And one memorable night, the American officers joined Tel Aviv police on a night patrol of the city.
Participants studied the sites of several terrorist attacks. At Jerusalem's Hebrew University, where a bombing killed nine, including five Americans, they visited the crime scene and paid their respects to the victims with a wreath-laying ceremony.
In an emotionally charged meeting in Tel Aviv, Chief Morris of the Port Authority presented Israeli Police Commissioner Aharonishki with a Star of David crafted from steel salvaged from the destroyed World Trade Center. It was presented on behalf of the Police of the Port Authority to demonstrate solidarity with Israel's national police force.
"The hospitality that the Israel Police Department showed us during the entire week was outstanding. ...I was very impressed with their interest in our group and the kindness that they extended to us. It truly made my visit a very personal experience." Major John Skinner
As result of the trip, the American officers say they have established a lasting bond and an ongoing dialogue with Israeli law enforcement officials that will allow them to better equip their departments with the information and resources needed to prevent and prepare for terrorism in their cities. Chief Polisar, noted, "This trip was an important step in ensuring our communities are protected at the local level. As first responders to any terrorist incident, it is critical that local law enforcement have the tools and training they need And, the participants agreed upon the critical impact dissemination of the information they gathered in Israel will have in protecting the American public. Participants resolved to begin the process of sharing "lessons learned" in Israel with their law enforcement colleagues in the United States.
Major John Skinner of the Baltimore Police Department commented that "the hospitality that the Israel Police Department showed us during the entire week was outstanding. ...I was very impressed with their interest in our group and the kindness that they extended to us. It truly made my visit a very personal experience."
According to Chief Anemone, JINSA's pilot program fulfilled several goals, including, "to show solidarity with the police in Israel and establish relations that will lead to sharing information, strategies and tactics. We are convinced that an educated, trained police force can make a difference."