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U.S. officials receive homeland security tips from Israeli counterparts

Posted By Daniel Ben Tal On June 23, 2003 @ 6:00 pm In | No Comments

Patrick Cannon, deputy mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, poses with members of the Israel Police earlier this month.American leaders in the law enforcement, medical and legal fields are continuing to make working visits to Israel to learn about the latest Israeli developments regarding homeland security, anti-terror activities, and emergency medical procedures.

This month, separate delegations of police officials, state attorney generals, and doctors all expressed admiration for Israeli expertise in these areas and confirmed they would be taking the lessons they learned home to their communities.

The high-ranking U.S. delegation of police and municipal officials learned that Israeli neighborhood policing and anti-terror activity offers a valuable model for American law enforcement. The 11-strong delegation, headed by Patrick Cannon, deputy mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina and James Coates, Deputy Chief of the Sheriff’s Office in Pinellas County, Florida, examined many aspects of their Israeli colleagues’work to keep the peace and prevent terrorist incursions.

“On a strategic level, there are many lessons to take back with us – especially the experience of the Border Police. Their primary goal is making sure that they deter terror attacks,” Cannon told ISRAEL21c. “You can’t get around it – the first issue to address is how to prevent the next terror attack. We learned the importance of paying close attention to the small details, and to be conscious of those who appear suspicious – without falling into the trap of profiling. You have to be aware of your surroundings, both within and around your community.”

“In the area of neighborhood policing, I was particularly impressed by the live aerial photography video downlinks from helicopters that give a real-time live depiction on what’s happening in another locality. This technology can also be used to combat criminal activity,” he added. “As deputy Mayor, this experience has encouraged me to examine the funding of such measures.”

In their series of tours and meetings around the country, the group learned first-hand how Israel law enforcement bodies are fighting and dealing with terror.

The delegation was briefed by colleagues from Hadera-Eiron Police on actions they take to prevent terrorist infiltrations, and witnessed ongoing Border Police patrols along the ‘seam line’ that divides Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The following day, the delegation spoke to Hadera high school students about their daily concerns. They also learned about daily Jewish-Arab co-operation within Israel, and visited a recently-inaugurated Community Police station (partially funded by the Abraham Fund for Jewish-Arab coexistence) in the Israeli Arab village Kafr Kara in Wadi Ara, where potentially large local problems are nipped in the bud while still small.

“Certain types of technology are needed to combat the potential of terror,” Cannon noted, “and we’ve been able to see them in action.”

This was Cannon’s first visit to Israel. “I tried not to come with preconceived ideas garnered from the media. What I have seen is that Arabs and Jews do get along. They’re working to live side by side, and interact daily. This was a great eye-opener – one that I can take back to the States and convey to the people there.”

The visit was organized through the Jewish Agency’s ‘Partnership 2000′ program that creates partnerships between Israeli and Jewish Communities in the Diaspora, and facilitates professional exchanges. In a reciprocal study tour – an Israeli police delegation from the Hadera area paid a working visit to their colleagues in North Carolina last year – the visiting officers lodged with host families of Hadera Police officers.

The U.S. law enforcers viewed the Lebanese border up close from Kibbutz Misgav Am, barely 200 meters from the southernmost Hizbullah outpost, and met with security services representatives in Tel Aviv. During their visit to Jerusalem, they looked over the Temple Mount complex from a strategically located Border Police post, and scrutinized the Old City’s closed-circuit television system.

The delegation visited the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera, where over 600 injured from 30 terror attacks in as many months have been treated – more than in any Israeli hospital since the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa intifada.
Hillel Yaffe’s Deputy Director Dr Jacob Haspel outlined the lessons of such grim experience, demonstrated the Emergency and Trauma wards, and described contingencies in the event of a gas attack.

“Another aspect is what to do during attacks. Many types of emergency forces are involved, and they all have to interact and interface with hospitals.We were most impressed by the trauma units,” noted Cannon.

“The Israelis have ways of dealing not only with victims, but also their friends and relatives. They make every resource available for those in time of worry or loss, and address the psychological aspects by bringing in social workers to help the victims? families,” said Cannon.

Cannon summarized the lessons learned from the intensive trip by bringing it back home to his community. “When dealing with homeland security, we want to be prepared.”

In a related matter, a group of state attorney-generals from Colorado, Utah, North Dakota, Montana and Nebraska are currently in Israel to learn more about the country’s handling of homeland security.

“I’ve been wanting to go to Israel for the last four years,” said Ken Salazar, Colorado’s attorney-general, noting that scheduling and other problems got in the way. “I can think of no better place in the world to learn how a government deals with the issues of crime, violence and homeland security than Israel. The lessons from the Middle East are lessons that can inform us of how we approach these issues in our country,” he told the Denver Post.

Salazar said the group also hopes to meet with Palestinians and visit a trauma center that treats both Israelis and Palestinians.

A group of 13 U.S. physicians is also visiting this week to learn from Israeli counterparts about their expertise in emergency preparedness, especially regarding chemical, biological and trauma drills, and bring that knowledge back to US hospitals., The Jerusalem Post reported.

The doctors, representing the Dallas, Des Moines, and Indianapolis Jewish communities, are also training for providing critical medical services in the event of a national emergency such as war in Israel. They’re volunteers for the Medical Emergency Response Group (ERG), a collaborative project of the United Jewish Communities (UJC) Partnership 2000 program, The Jewish Agency (JAFI), and Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya.

The group will conduct a weeklong dry-run at Nahariya Government Hospital, said Dr. Sandy Bidner, an east Texas orthopedic surgeon and chairman of the medical branch of Partnership 2000 for the US central region. “In such a case, we would work in the hospital in order to allow Israeli doctors to go to the front.”

“Israel has experienced the most extensive medical consequences of terrorist attacks,” said Dr. Alan Koslow, senior vascular surgeon at the Iowa Heart Center in Des Moines and one of the participating physicians. “Therefore, it will be an ideal place for American physicians to train on how to deal with these special types of medical emergencies. I look to this as being a pilot for hundreds, if not thousands, of American physicians being trained on how to deal with the medical consequences of terrorism,” he added. “I feel, both as an American and a physician, an obligation to help if the need arises.”


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