Enhancing Homeland Security
(March 3, 2003)
With the United States on constant terror alert, American security officials are taking advantage of Israel's expertise in various facets of terror prevention and first response to better protect the American people.
Thirty-three senior law enforcement officials from North America traveled to Israel in January 2003 to attend a meeting on "Law Enforcement in the Era of Global Terror." During the four-day trip, officials from Washington, Chicago, Kansas City, Boston and Philadelphia attended workshops on 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.”
Officials from the nation's capital, a potentially major target for terrorism, also observed Israel's counterterrorism techniques during their visit. Officials from Washington included D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey and U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer. “I think it's invaluable,” said 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.”
American security officials are now beginning to take additional concrete steps based on the information they acquired from Israel. In California, for example, Los Angeles Police Department detective Ralph Morten, a visitor in 2002, is preparing a Homicide Bomber Prevention Protocol. In addition, Morten is also using Israeli advice to make security arrangements for the Academy Awards presentation on March 23. He plans to shut down three blocks surrounding the event and to search every car and star, just as they do in Israel.
The United States' new Department of Homeland Security is also taking advantage of the unique relationship between the United States and Israel to help protect the American people. In particular, a special Office of International Affairs has been established in the newly created government agency. “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.
This new office should serve to institutionalize the relationship that previously was characterized by routine meetings between American and Israeli security officials. “We've taken a look at a lot of the things they do [to] see how we can apply it,” said Gordon Johndroe, Homeland Security Department spokesman.
Source: Near East Report, ((March 3, 2003))