TEL AVIV – U.S. police chiefs are currently in Israel for advanced training in counter-terrorism with the Israel Police.
The National Counter-Terrorism Seminar, organized by the Anti-Defamation League, will host senior law enforcement officers from U.S. cities that have suffered from terror attacks in recent months, including Orlando, Florida and San Bernadino, California.
“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,” the Jerusalem Post reported Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, as saying.
Segal added that the one of the goals of the seminar was to combat the negative image of Israel in the media.
“Like many people in the States, law enforcement officials who have not visited have a perception of Israel that they get from the media,” he said. “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.”
Furthermore, Segal said, U.S. law enforcement will be exposed to the “unique threats and unique experience” that combating terrorism entails.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina, the chief investigator of the Pulse nightclub massacre that claimed 49 lives in June, said the massacre committed by a lone gunman profoundly scarred the city.
“The attack was devastating,” Mina said, “and we were devastated. But we knew we had to come together as a community, and we’re going through that process now.”
“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 said.
Mina, whose Lebanese father was born in Haifa, was impressed with certain techniques employed by the Israel Police, including heavily-armed officers on motorcycles who are ready to deal with threats in a speedy fashion.
“We’re not used to that in the United States, so it was kind of interesting to see,” he said.
“Also [Police Spokesman] Micky Rosenfeld gave an excellent presentation on dealing with terrorism and the importance of getting information out quickly, which we think is very important as well in the US.”
Mina added that Israeli counter-terrorism serves as a preeminent model for his country’s law enforcement.
“We have great respect for the way things are done over here by the Israeli Police,” he said. “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.”
He further praised the Jewish state for being “excellent” at dealing with the threat of jihadist incitement on social media. He added that in Israel “they don’t negotiate [with terrorists], and I think that’s the way to go.”
John McMahon, sheriff of San Bernardino County, California, was in charge of the investigation into a December terror attack in which an Arab couple murdered 14 people and wounded 22 before being shot dead by police.
“This is a new world for us, and so we can learn a lot from the Israel Police, and the folks in Israel, because this is something they’ve been dealing with for a number of years, and they have a lot of experience to share,” he said.
Police Spokesman Rosenfeld said that, as terrorists become bolder, law enforcement agencies from all over the world are increasingly turning to Israel for help.
“As part of ongoing coordination and sharing of intelligence, knowledge, and experience in the field of terrorism, the Israel Police will continue to work with law enforcement officials throughout the world,” Rosenfeld stated.