With the United States on constant terror alert since the events of September 11, 2001, American police and law enforcement officials are taking advantage of Israel's expertise in various facets of counter-terrorism and first response to better protect the American people.
In 2002, Los Angeles Police Department detective Ralph Morten visited Israel to recieve training and advice on preparing security arrangements for large public gatherings. From lessons learned on his trip, Det. Morten prepared a new Homicide Bomber Prevention Protocol and was better able to secure the Academy Awards presentation.
In January 2003, thirty-three senior U.S. law enforcement officials - from Washington, Chicago, Kansas City, Boston and Philadelphia - traveled to Israel to attend a meeting on "Law Enforcement in the Era of Global Terror." The workshops helped build skills in identifying terrorist cells, enlisting public support for the fight against terrorism and coping with the aftermath of a terrorist attack.
“We went to the country that's been dealing with the issue for 30 years,” Boston Police Commissioner Paul F. Evans said. “The police are the front line in the battle against terrorism. We were there to learn from them - their response, their efforts to deter it. They touched all the bases.”
“I think it's invaluable,” said Washington, DC Police Chief Charles Ramsey about the instruction he received in Israel. “They have so much more experience in dealing with this than we do in the United States.”
Also, in 2003, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security established a special Office of International Affairs to institutionalize the relationship between Israeli and American security officials. “I think we can learn a lot from other countries, particularly Israel, which unfortunately has a long history of preparing for and responding to terrorist attacks,” said Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) about the special office.
In November 2011, a delegation of senior American law enforcement officials, including police commanders, security experts and FBI agents, went to Israel for a joint training seminar with Israeli counter-terrorism officials sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League. Israeli Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the program provided the visiting officials with an opportunity to “learn from each other and their Israeli counterparts.”The program covered topics such as border security and media response during crises as well as overviewing strategies for treating mass casualties, performing rescue operations and establishing command and control at the scene of a terror attack.
Col. Robert Quinn, commander of the New Hampshire State Police, was part of the delegation. "It's really been an eye-opener," says Col. Quinn. "We attend various training in the states on terrrosim and counter-terrosim issues but never have I ever learned as much as I have just by looking and observing as I have been in [Israel]."
In early September 2012, the New York Police Department (NYPD) opened an Israeli branch at the Sharon District Police Headquarters in the Israeli coastal city of Kfar Saba. The NYPD decision to open an Israeli branch rested on the fact that the Israeli police is one of the major police forces with which it must maintain close work relations and daily contact.
In September 2013, a special team of bomb squad members from cities along the U.S.-Mexico border travelled to Israel in an effort to improve techniques and tactics for dealing with illegal immigration and IED attacks. Sgt. Chris Rogers represented the Pima (Arizona) Regional Bomb Squad - "We engaged the Department of Defense and the technical support group to sponsor the trip. So we could get first hand training and experience from the Israelis who have been dealing with cross border IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) for some time now."
Some of the training for the group included going to a West Bank military outpost with the Israeli National Police bomb squad and visiting an Israeli port of entry to learn about port inspections as they relate to counter explosives and counter IED operations.
Fifteen members of U.S. Security agencies and police departments travelled to Israel in September 2015 to engage in counter-terrorism training sessions, led by Israeli counter-terrorism officers. The trip was sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, and according to the organization's director, the participants, “learn[ed] lessons from Israel in terms of tactics and strategies and the evolution of terrorism.” Officials hailing from the U.S. Marshalls Service, U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police, as well as the Chicago, Las Vegas, Austin, Seattle, Oakland and Miami-Dade police departments, participated in this training exercise.
A diverse group of 52 law enforcement officers from 12 U.S. states visited Israel and participated in joing training sessions with their Israeli counterparts during September 2017. This program, known as the Police Unity Tour, has been held periodically since 1997.
Sources: Near East Report (March 3, 2003);
Yaakov Lappin. “US police in Israel for counter-terrorism program,” Jerusalem Post (November 1, 2011);
Maariv-NRG (September 5, 2012);
Ben Hartman. “American law enforcement learns anti-terror tactics from Israeli experts,” Jerusalem Post (September 9, 2015);
Daniel Eisenbud.US Police Train in Counterterrorism in Israel, Attend 9/11 Memorial,Jerusalem Post, (September 5, 2017).