Key police officials in DC return from homeland security-based trip to Israel (AP) Associated Press) WASHINGTON 04/17/12 1:26 AM)
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WASHINGTON — Two top police officials from the nation’s capital have
returned from a homeland security-inspired trip to Israel, where they
say they got a first-hand look at how police and the public respond
to security threats and disasters.
Diane Groomes, an assistant D.C. police chief, and Deputy Chief
Robert MacLean of the U.S. Park Police were among law enforcement
officials from around the country who made the trip last month. The
week-long visit, sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, was
intended to give American police leaders a window into how Israeli
police prevent and respond to terrorist attacks.
The exercise is more than just hypothetical in Washington, the seat
of American government and a city whose iconic landmarks have made it
a possible target for acts of terrorism or other hate crimes, such as
a 2009 fatal shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum by a
The officials said they were struck by certain similarities in law
enforcement response between the United States and Israel and in the
familiar but delicate balance between preserving civil liberties and
maintaining strict security. MacLean said some of the screening
measures were similar from country to country, though some tactics in
Israel might not be as well-accepted here.
Groomes in particular said she was struck by how quickly Israel,
which has a national police force, can respond to a disaster and said
the public there seems more accepting of the prevalent security
precautions that are in place.
“I think our police officers are prepared. I don’t know about our
public. I think panic will set in, just like when the earthquake”
happened, Groomes said, referring to the August quake that rattled
much of the East Coast.
She also said she was impressed by the speed with which the Israeli
police and public seem to recover from tragedy.
“I was just struck by how they can handle a scene, process and clear
it and plant within it” in hours, Groomes said, adding, “If we had a
bomb on a bus, it would take us maybe a day or to handle. They said
they just want life to go back to normal as soon as possible.”
MacLean, who has previously worked with the ADL, said he was
particularly moved by a visit to the Yad Vashem holocaust memorial in
Jerusalem, and by the personal anecdotes he heard from Israelis,
including from a person who described a decision to send his children
to school on different school buses to minimize family losses in the
event of a terrorist attack. He also heard from a survivor of a
suicide bombing attack.
“For her to sit there in front of us and tell her story and how she
would not let that affect her life and career was just very moving
and emotional, for her and everybody in the room,” MacLean said
Elise Jarvis, the ADL’s associate director for law enforcement
outreach, said the ADL has been sponsoring similar trips for several
years to facilitate information sharing between police officials in
both nations. She said it’s inspiring for the U.S. police officers to
see the “resilience of Israeli law enforcement, Israeli people, and
how they’ve endured what they’ve endured and they haven’t lost their
humanity.” (© 2012 The Associated Press 04/17/12)
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