Quincy Police Chief Paul Keenan has been out of the office for the past week. Yet this is no normal time off away from the job.
Keenan and 14 other high-ranking police officers from across the country have been at the Anti-Defamation League's counterterrorism training program in Israel, learning how the country deals with terrorism, border patrol, airport security, and safe access to holy sites, aided by new technology.
“It’s been a whirlwind tour of Israel,” Keenan said in a telephone interview from Israel.
Keenan is one of five participants from Massachusetts, joining officials from Pittsfield and Salem, and two from the State police.
Participants from Connecticut, Maine, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are also on the program, now in its fourth year, which includes attending high-level briefings with commanders from the Israel National Police, security experts, and intelligence analysts.
Keenan said the trip had already been rewarding.
“Each and every one showed the communications they have with different units. It’s a common goal of keeping the country safe,” Keenan said. “There are no big egos, everyone works well together. They were one. That includes Israeli defense…and national police.”
Keenan said the open line of communication across police levels was unusual to see, especially because police in the United States can be fairly territorial.
According to Keenan, the use of new technology was also enlightening.
From seeing border crossings on the Egyptian/Israeli line, to airport security, Israel has shown how new technology can be utilized effectively.
“In police, we do the same old thing because we’ve always done it that way, but in a trip like this, it opens your eyes,” Keenan said. “We can do it a different way, provide the services and safety in a new and improved way. It’s been good in that respect.”
The program has also been a helpful networking tool, Keenan said, and will help open the lines of communication between State, Boston, and Quincy police officials.
Even in how police work is done, there is much to be learned from Israeli police forces.
“I think that when I get back, I’ll probably change some policies we have,” Keenan said.
The trip comes at an interesting time. Israeli warplanes hit
http://bostonglobe.com/news/world/2013/01/31/israeli-warplanes-launch-assault-syria/WG11tmIIvHQZ8XcYYhXoSO/story.html at Syrian territory on Wednesday, and the action has exacerbated an already intense group of police officials, Keenan said.
Keenan and the group are heading out to the Syrian border on Friday.
“They are an intense group of people anyway, the Israeli defense forces…they are really intense about protecting their citizens. I’m guessing [Friday] it will be an even heightened sense of alert, so it should be interesting to see,” Keenan said.
Despite the conflict, Keenan said things still feel safe, with police officers on every corner. With such constant training, officers are adept at handling any situation that may arise.
“They are always doing this training … I think we can bring some of that back to the states. The 15 of us here have said that, we need to train more and work well together,” Keenan said.
The response is exactly why the ADL is giving US police officials this type of insight.
“This program allows American law enforcement to interact with and learn directly from the experiences of their Israeli counterparts,” said Robert Trestan, ADL's eastern states civil rights counsel, who is leading the mission. “This is an opportunity for law enforcement from the United States to strengthen professional relationships and have access to the latest strategies and techniques in combating terror threats.”