February 09, 2004
Fourteen of the most senior police chiefs, sheriffs and state police commanders returned from Israel last week after five days of intensively studying counter terrorism techniques. These law enforcement executives traveled to Israel on January 24 and returned January 30, 2004. They went as participants in JINSA's Law Enforcement Exchange Program (LEEP). Modeled after the JINSA's extremely successful Flag & General Officers Trip, the LEEP program is designed to establish cooperation between American and Israeli law enforcement personnel and to give the American law enforcement community access to the hard "lessons learned" by the Israelis in the interdiction of and response to all forms of terrorism.
The Israeli National Police hosted the Americans with participation by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Israel Security Agency.
The delegation studied methods and observed techniques used by Israeli police forces in preventing and reacting to suicide bombers, and joined Israeli police on a nighttime patrol of Tel Aviv. The agenda also focused on the critical role of intelligence gathering and interagency information sharing.
Participants in the LEEP Trip examining the crime scene with an Israel National Police bomb squad commander at Tel Aviv's Dolphinarium disco where 21 persons, mostly teenagers, were killed and 120 wounded by a Palestinian suicide bomber on June 1, 2001. Brig. Gen. Simon Perry, Israel Police Attache for the U.S. & Canada, accompanied the group. Commander's face obscured for security reasons.
At several seminars, Israeli commanders of bomb disposal and undercover units briefed the delegation on the increasing sophistication of domestic terrorists, who can employ a range of weapons, from knives and guns, to car bombs or cell phones outfitted with explosives. American officials learned about the mindset of a suicide bomber and how to spot trouble signs.
Israeli experts also discussed how to secure large venues, such as shopping malls, sporting events and concerts, without disrupting the enjoyment of the public.
The group also took time to look at the Security Fence as a defensive measure to lessen the possibility of terrorist infiltration. They saw where the fence has already been constructed as well as planned future sights. The consensus of the group was that in light of prior Israeli casualties the fence has saved lives.
Steven Pomerantz, Executive Director of the Center For Criminal Justice Technology at Mitretek Systems, in Virginia, led in the planning and execution of the trip on the American side. In summing up the goals of the LEEP project, Pomerantz, a former Assistant Director of the FBI and a member of JINSA's Board of Advisors, noted, "Nothing can replicate American officials seeing these types of problems firsthand and the systems that are put in place to deal with them."
This is the second time JINSA has organized a delegation of U.S. law enforcement officials to learn from their Israeli counterparts. Called the Law Enforcement Exchange Program (LEEP), JINSA hopes to undertake the trip annually, each time with a new group of officers.
Participants were invited through a process that considered geographic region, their involvement in national professional policing organizations and their professional responsibilities in the fight against terrorism. For example, in addition to serving as chief of his department, Chief Joseph Polisar is the current president of the International Chiefs of Police (IACP), the largest international police organization in the world. All other major American law enforcement organizations were represented on the trip including the Major Cities Chiefs Association, Major Counties Sheriffs Association and the Police Executive Research Forum.
Participants in the program included:
- Chief Joseph Carter Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority,
- Col. Richard Fuentes New Jersey State Police,
- Sheriff Patrick Gallivan Erie County, N.Y. [encompassing Buffalo, NY],
- William Gore Special Adviser and Chief of Investigations for the San Diego County, Calif. District Attorney,
- Commander Cathy Lanier Commanding officer of the Special Operations Division of the Metropolitan Police Department, Washington, D.C.,
- Sheriff Patrick McGowan Hennepin County, Minn. [encompassing Minneapolis],
- Col. Jeffrey Miller Pennsylvania State Police,
- Bureau Chief John Miller Los Angeles Police Department's Critical Incident Management Bureau,
- Sheriff Jim Pendergraph Mecklenburg County, N. Car. [encompassing Charlotte],
- Chief Joseph Polisar Garden Grove, Calif. Police Department,
- First Deputy Superintendent Dana Starks Chicago Police Department,
- Deputy Chief Larry Thompson Chief of Uniformed Services, United States Capitol Police, and
- Chief Maryanne Viverette Gaithersburg, Md. Police Department.
Mark Broxmeyer, JINSA's Chairman traveled with the group. He noted that the LEEP programming is in keeping with JINSA's mandate of a strong U.S. national security. "The goal of the terrorists is to undermine our country and kill Americans. Our country's law enforcement community is on the front lines of this war. These committed and dedicated leaders are our first line of defense."
"The Israeli experience with domestic terrorism is so vast. Every Israeli official we met with was anxious for the Americans to learn from their tragic experience," related Marsha Halteman, director of corporate and community projects at JINSA and who accompanied the delegation to Israel. "It's such a tiny country, with a national police force smaller than that of most major cities in America. The Israelis were eager to take the time and resources to share their experiences with the group which we hope will ultimately save American lives should our law enforcement community ever find themselves in the same position again. As far as the interdiction of terrorism is concerned, it already has."