Hall County Sheriff’s Maj. Ramone Gilbert saw firsthand the kinds of security threats Israelis face on a constant basis.
Gilbert, who returned last week from a two-week training trip in Israel, was at a busy intersection in Tel Aviv when the streets were cleared for a suspicious suitcase.
In the United States, most such bomb scares are false alarms. In Israel, the threats of blasts are much more real.
“Their ability to deal with the threats they have on a constant basis is impressive,” Gilbert said, noting how officials could quickly set up three-tier security perimeters.
Using a remote-controlled robot, Israeli police determined the suitcase was not a threat. But in a country where bombings have become almost routine, police never take chances.
“The number of bomb threat call-ins they get over there is just astronomical,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert, who has been with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office for 22 years, is the second senior commander from the agency to make the trip as part of the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange, or GILEE. Sheriff Steve Cronic was part of a GILEE delegation that visited the country in 2007. Israeli police will visit Georgia in the fall.
Gilbert said the trip was a chance to observe and learn from one of the most advanced security forces in the world.
“The technology they have is unreal, from communications, computers, cameras, security systems to border patrol systems,” said
Gilbert, who along with 19 others spent two weeks traveling across the country, from Tel Aviv and Haifa to the Golan Heights. He stood at the country’s borders with Syria, Jordan and Egypt. They were long days, he said, but he learned a lot.
“This was an unbelievable opportunity for professional growth,” Gilbert said. “It provided things you just simply cannot be taught in a classroom. It has to be experienced. Witnessing and being a part of managing multiple units within a national police force was really enlightening.”
Started in 1992 through the Georgia State University criminal justice department, GILEE is a partnership between local, state and federal agencies and the private sector, and is funded in part by criminal justice grants.
Each year the exchange takes U.S. law enforcement officials to Israel and other countries to learn security tactics from experts who frequently respond to terrorist acts that have become more serious threats on U.S. soil in recent years.
“The recent arrest of the terrorist suspect in New York is just a reminder of what we’re facing here in the United States,” Gilbert said.