Above: Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav is flanked by Christopher Wigginton (left), the director of the Georgia Public Safety Training Center, and Georgia State Patrol Capt. Mark Hambert behind the Georgia flag.
Police leaders, sheriff’s officers and a commissioner representing 11 Atlanta-area public safety and law enforcement agencies recently spent two weeks in Israel to train in the latest counterterrorism techniques and technologies with that nation’s top police professionals.
They were among 19 delegates, 15 of them from Georgia, who attended the 24th annual peer-to-peer public safety training program organized by the Georgia International Law Enforcement
Exchange. The involved local departments included the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, the Brookhaven Police Department and the Gwinnett County Police Department. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation also participated.
Non-Georgia participants came from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department, and police departments in Alabama and Washington.
“As the world gets ever smaller, GILEE’s focus on international public safety partnerships is critically important,” said GILEE Founding Director Robert Friedmann, a professor emeritus of criminal justice at Georgia State University. “Our delegates are trained to recognize the challenges and deal with them in accordance with the best practices in 21st century policing.”
GILEE hosts public safety exchanges, conferences and expert speakers to introduce best practices in law enforcement to police and other public and private safety professionals to enhance their capabilities to serve and protect citizens. Among other honors, GILEE received the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police President’s Special Service Award in 2014.
“The training received in Israel and their ability to deal with high-pressure situations will be valuable to day-to-day situations in Georgia,” Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens said. “There is so much we can learn to be that beacon on the hill again.”
Georgia Public Safety Commissioner Mark McDonough, the colonel of the Georgia State Patrol, is a GILEE alumnus who recently described the program’s peer-to-peer training as the professional chance of a lifetime. “GILEE had a profound impact on the law enforcement community in Georgia and beyond.”
Since its founding, GILEE has graduated more than 1,350 public safety and law enforcement officials from more than 380 training exchange programs. About half those officials are from the United States, mostly from Georgia, but others come from around the world.
In addition, more than 25,000 public and private safety leaders have attended GILEE’s special briefings, seminars and workshops.