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Chicago police superintendent and local law enforcement officials visit Israel

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy led a delegation of senior local law enforcement officials participating in Israel’s third International Homeland Security Conference.

 CPD Israel

Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy addresses Israel's third International Homeland Security Conference.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy led a delegation of senior local law enforcement officials participating in Israel’s third International Homeland Security Conference. Held in Tel Aviv Nov. 9-12, over 60 nations from every continent sent over 700 delegates to share best practices and learn about Israel’s cutting-edge policing strategies and technologies. Areas of focus included cyber security, critical infrastructure protection (ports, trains, airports, oil/gas rigs and pipelines), emergency preparedness and counter terrorism.

McCarthy was invited to be an official guest of the State of Israel by Roey Gilad, Consul General of Israel to the Midwest, whose consulate, and the Economic Mission of Israel to the Midwest, organized the visit's agenda.

American officials in attendance represented federal, state, county and city agencies.  Accompanying McCarthy were Cook County’s Executive Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Michael Masters and the Chicago Police Department’s Chief of Staff (and former SWAT Commander) James Roussell.  Also joining the Chicago delegation were Ari Rokni, business and trade development director at the Israeli Economic Mission, Atlanta Police Department Deputy Chief Shawn Jones and Chief of Police for the San Francisco/Bay Area Rapid Transit System Kenton Rainey. Representing JUF were Executive Vice President Jay Tcath and Reis Kayser, executive director of Federation’s Facilities Corporation.

McCarthy and Masters spoke at plenary sessions on management before and during emergencies, and cybercrime, respectively. During a simultaneous International Police Commissioners Conference, McCarthy was part of a panel discussion on “police leadership during crisis.” He used the opportunity to talk about both his experience as NYPD’s Chief of Operations during 9-11 and Chicago’s successful 2012 hosting of a NATO Summit.

Many of Israel’s leading law enforcement and security officials participated in the conferences, including Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino and several former Shin Bet/Israel Security Agency commanders.

Beyond the conference, the Chicago delegation visited the Israeli Police Air Unit, the police headquarters for Jerusalem’s Old City, Magen David Adom’s command center, the national railway security operations center and the Home Front Command’s Civil and Military Training Center.  There was also time – but not much – for the group to do some more traditional sightseeing in the Jewish State.

Reflecting on the week, McCarthy observed that “the two international law enforcement conferences in Israel this week were invaluable experiences to both share what we in Chicago have learned, often the hard way, as well as to learn from our Israeli partners on ways to better serve and protect our own community. CPD is a large and highly skilled police force, but we must strive to learn whatever we can, from whomever, wherever we can. 

"In addition to engaging dozens of Israelis, I also learned much from my fellow Chiefs of Police from Portugal, Cyprus, the Philippines and Los Angeles," he continued. "While always supportive of collaboration between police forces, it is clearer than ever that such cooperation must increasingly happen on the international level, particularly when combating the threat of terrorism while guaranteeing the civil rights of our citizens. Being In Israel during a week of deadly terrorist stabbings and car attacks added a somber dimension to this special experience. The resiliency of Israeli institutions and the Israeli people is really something to see. It was a meaningful experience. I'm grateful to those who put it together and made it possible for several of us from Chicago to participate."

Masters said the safety and security of Chicago and Cook County has already improved because of this experience.

"As security professionals around the world increasingly work to address similar threats - from cyber breaches to terrorist attacks - the opportunity to share best practices is critical," he said. "We will now bring the lessons home; our community should feel secure knowing that the relationships in Chicago and Cook County between homeland security, law enforcement, emergency management and JUF is a testament to the strong relationships, common interests and shared concerns of everyone."

The participation of the Chicago law enforcement leaders was made possible by the Shafton Israel Institute, a JUF Centennial Campaign endowment that sends elected officials, law enforcement officers, Catholic educators, non-Jewish civic leaders and clergy as well as local cultural groups (River North Chicago Dance Company, Jesse White Tumblers and the Deerfield High School Orchestra) on educational trips to Israel.

Tcath said, “this is JUF’s third mission to Israel for Chicago’s senior law enforcement officers. Helping connect and thereby improve the work of both Israeli and Chicago police is a natural role for JUF, committed as we are to the safety of the entire Chicago community and the Jewish State. From advising us on ways to enhance the physical security of our Jewish community's institutions to helping us ensure the safety of JUF events – everything from dinners to pro-Israel rallies – we are grateful for the extraordinary commitment of CPD, Cook County’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management and our other public law enforcement partners. These missions to Israel both reflect and help deepen these valued relationships."

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