Citing Israel’s preeminence in counter-terrorism and the fact that it is the only country outside the United States to have a 9/11 memorial honoring every victim a US police delegation arrived to visit the country on the 15th anniversary of the attack.
Fifty-two officers from seven states arrived on Wednesday for one week to train with multiple units, visit the new state-of-the-art police academy in Beit Shemesh, and hold a ceremony at Jerusalem’s 9/11 memorial on Sunday.
A similar delegation of a dozen US police chiefs from across the US participated here last month in a one week counter-terrorism seminar sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League.
Israel Police Ch.-Supt. Yoni Zeitak said Thursday that the visit marks the first time that a police delegation from the US came to Israel to hold a 9/11 memorial.
55 sheriffs & police officers from the US visiting Israel. Opening ceremony at the Israel police academy today. pic.twitter.com/kpYV9fTbth
— Micky Rosenfeld (@MickyRosenfeld) September 7, 2016
“They came on a unity mission, and one of the main features of the visit will be officers from both our countries taking part in a 9/11 memorial ceremony,” said Zeitak. “We get many groups of police officers that visit for professional reasons, but this is also a solitary mission to honor US and Israel Police officers.”
During their stay, the US officers will reside at the Beit Shemesh academy, where they will participate in multiple counter-terrorism training exercises, and meet with Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich, Zeitak said.
The leader of the delegation, Michael Safris, chief of the Essex County’s Sheriff’s Office Deputy Division, is also a member of the Police Unity Tour, established in 1997 to honor fallen US officers.
“The motto of the Police Unity Tour is ‘We ride for those who died,’ and every year for Police Week, when they put the names [of fallen officers] on the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, DC, we have different chapters that ride bicycles from New Jersey to Washington to raise money for the memorial,” he said.
As a symbolic gesture to show unity with fallen Israeli police officers, Safris, who has regularly visited Israel for 10 years, said on Thursday the US group and officers from Israel rode bikes together for 24 kilometers in the Negev with Deputy Police Commissioner Zohar Devir.
“Because this wasn’t a good year for Israeli officers, we thought we could do a ride together,” he said. “The point was to meet with fellow officers to honor their sacrifices, and to build our relationships.”
Safris said the American officers are participating in numerous training demonstrations at the academy.
“We had demonstrations on different ways they stop vehicles with terrorists, different fighting techniques, including Krav Maga, and how to utilize it, and how they use multiple tactics,” he said, adding that the academy is on par with the finest US federal law enforcement facilities.
The delegation includes male and female officers from New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Colorado, California and Nevada.
US police delegation & Israel police officers cycle together 30km in the south. Over 100 officers took part in event pic.twitter.com/aeNOBSEmLs
— Micky Rosenfeld (@MickyRosenfeld) September 8, 2016
Asked why the relationship is so strong between the US and Israeli police forces, Safris noted respect for Israel’s efficiency and advanced tactics, coupled by its ability to enforce the law in a humane manner, despite dealing with countless depraved terrorists.
Craig W. Floyd, president and CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial Fund, said the significance of the US officers coming to Israel to hold a 9/11 ceremony during the present international terrorism wave cannot be overstated.
“I think the timing is certainly very appropriate, because we’re involved in a global war on terrorism, and we need to work together and build solidarity between law enforcement officers from around the world to combat that terrorism, and win that war,” said Floyd.
“Clearly, the United States and Israel have such strong relations to begin with, but to have our law enforcement professionals come over here to spend time and learn from each other in terms of techniques and attitudes in the ways we’re dealing with this terrible problem… if we do it together, we can be successful.”
“When you talk about 9/11,” he continued, “that’s really when our war on terror began, and Israel, obviously, has been dealing with terrorist attacks for many years before, so we can certainly learn from your experience and expertise here.”
Moreover, despite international criticism, Floyd cited Israel’s law enforcement’s ability to protect citizens and provide security while protecting “the rights and freedoms of the people that live here, just as we want to do in the United States.”
Noting that the delegation is one of more than 200 from across the globe annually hosted by the Israel Police Foreign Affairs Department, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the Israeli force is particularly honored by the US delegation’s visit during their annual 9/11 memorial ceremony.