February 10, 2013

State police chief: Israel impressive

Col. Robert Williams praises the sharing of intelligence, the swift response to terrorist acts and the sense of mission.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Williams said there is a shared sense of mission among many of the police and the general public: the survival of the country -- about the size of Connecticut -- in the midst of many who dispute its right to exist.

In addition to a national force of 26,000 sworn police officers, there are 118,000 volunteer police who handle law enforcement duties like traffic control and investigations. All Israelis serve mandatory military service, and police carry military-style weapons, though the public generally does not carry guns.

Williams said he was startled by how open Israeli officers are to sharing intelligence. If their equivalent of the CIA learns of a possible terrorist attack, that information is distributed to all military and police agencies as well as private security at places like shopping malls and hotels.

The security officials told the U.S. police executives that they believe having all law enforcement coordinated and "on the same page" is essential to their survival, Williams recounted. Agencies in the U.S. are much less likely to share intelligence unless it's clearly necessary.

"They said, 'The more people that are looking for that suicide bomber, the better chance you have of catching them,' " Williams said.

"That will always subconsciously be with me the rest of my career. Maybe we don't have to have as many secrets within our profession."

Williams plans to meet with his command staff to review Israel's security approach and any possible applications in Maine.

Many Israeli techniques might never work in this country, he said, or would require congressional action.

"It doesn't mean you don't keep it in your mind," he said. "Rome wasn't built in a day."

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com

 

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