Gov. Nathan Deal led more than 200 people, from diplomats to law enforcement officials, in celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange on Nov. 7 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in Midtown.
“GILEE, with its peer-to-peer training partnerships during the last 25 years, has improved law enforcement in Georgia by encouraging camaraderie and the exchange of meaningful and helpful information,” Deal said.
He said he and his wife, Sandra, who played host to GILEE’s 20th anniversary gala at the Governor’s Mansion in 2012, are honored that Atlanta is the home of the nonprofit organization, founded and led by Georgia State University professor Robbie Friedmann.
“GILEE embodies the values and mission of Georgia State University: teaching, scholarship and service,” university President Mark Becker said in recorded remarks. “GILEE has become the go-to source for public safety matters.”
Friedmann launched GILEE in 1992 to enhance executive development and international cooperation in law enforcement, initially to protect Atlanta’s visitors during the 1996 Olympic Games. Friedmann is now a professor emeritus at Georgia State’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies as well as GILEE’s founding director.
GILEE has played a part in Olympic security throughout the past two decades, including the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, although it is not involved in the 2018 Winter Olympics in February in South Korea.
“We thought GILEE was over after the 1996 Olympics because we’d achieved our mission,” Friedmann said. “We then opened statewide and nationwide due to tremendous demand. GILEE is an amazing opportunity to make a difference as our graduates provide better service to the communities they serve.”
Perry Brickman, who was honored along with former Dante’s Down the Hatch owner Dante Stephenson for longtime support of GILEE, recalled meeting with Friedmann 25 years ago as the president of the Atlanta Jewish Federation.
“He was asking for the Federation’s support,” Brickman said. “This meeting led to providing the seed money to kick-start GILEE.”
GILEE focuses on enhancing homeland security in the United States and at major sporting events worldwide through international cooperation and public safety training. GILEE has carried out more than 440 programs and produced 1,500 graduates of its annual peer-to-peer training program.
More than 31,000 law enforcement officers, corporate security personnel and community leaders have participated in over 200 GILEE special briefings. GILEE works with more than 25 states and more than 25 countries.
GILEE takes law enforcement leaders to Israel for intensive tours and training each year. The visiting officers learn from the Israel Police about surveillance techniques, high-tech equipment and terrorism prevention, among other areas, while Israeli law enforcement learns more about how to respond to and prevent more traditional crimes.
Col. Yitzhak Almog, the Israel Police attaché to North America, emphasized the “mutual benefits of the relationship between the Israel Police and police forces in North America,” and Col. Mark McDonough, the Georgia public safety commissioner, said, “In law enforcement, you can’t go to a better training ground than to the state of Israel.”
“The sharing of information, for those who have a common purpose like good law enforcement, stronger communities and safe streets, is essentially important to see that law enforcement works hand in hand with the private sector and with government to see to it that its citizens are protected,” Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson said in recorded remarks. “Tonight’s 25th anniversary celebration is a tribute to all those who have contributed in the past and is a statement of the future. We’re going to continue to work together, share information and make our communities safer and better for the best interests of our countries and our people.”
Republican Sen. David Perdue and Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus also recorded video comments.
“I want to thank a lot of people, certainly Georgia State University for having the program and helping police officers and law enforcement to understand and solve the problems facing us today,” Marcus said. He said he and former Secretary of State George Schultz happened to meet one of the delegations in Israel a few years ago, and Schultz “was astounded by this program and thought it should be done in every state of the Union.”
The speakers at the anniversary celebration included Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan, a member of GILEE’s first counterterrorism training delegation to Israel in 1993.
“GILEE, the finest public safety leadership course in the United States, has taught me this: There is a true brotherhood of the badge across the U.S. and across countries. We want to serve and protect. We are honored to have GILEE in the state of Georgia,” Keenan said.
In his keynote address, Deal then described several law enforcement advances in Georgia in recent years, including increased enrollment in trooper training, 20 percent salary raises for state officers and the state’s nearly $60 million investment in the new Cyber Security and Innovation Training Center in Augusta.
LaGrange Police Chief Louis Dekmar, who is the president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, said: “One invaluable experience of GILEE training is its adherence to and respect for civil rights and the U.S. Constitution. You don’t sacrifice civil liberty for safety.”
Dekmar announced during the gala that he is adding an Israeli to his association’s board for the first time.