Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Israeli Cops Learn a Thing or Two from Group of New Jersey’s Finest

April 17, 1992
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Although dressed in casual clothes and sporting a tan, the 10 Americans who visited Israel’s National Police Academy on Sunday were definitely not on vacation.

The men, all experts in law enforcement form the state of New Jersey, went to work just minutes after arriving. One by one, they stood before 50 Israeli police cadets seated in the classroom and described police techniques and procedures, American style.

But while New Jersey’s finest, here on a 10 day exchange program sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, came to teach Israel’s police force about drug interdiction, handling people with AIDS, community policing and administrative techniques, they also came to learn.

The program, which is the brainchild of ADL and the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, is “a way for the police to exchange information and training on a variety of topics,” said ADL staffer Laura Kamm.

“New Jersey’s experience with drug abuse and AIDS will be helpful to Israel, while the New Jersey police are eager to learn how Israel fights terrorism and civil unrest.”

On a tour of the academy following the lectures, Sgt. Steven Rogers, a community relations officer from Nutley, N.J., observed that “Israel’s police force is very professional. In many ways, it’s superior to ours. For one thing, Israelis are better at training their command personnel.”

At the academy’s computer center, where programmer Koby Rosenberg demonstrated his easy-to-use instructional programs for veteran officers, the visitors shook their heads in admiration.

“This is amazing,” said New Providence Police Chief James Venezia as he watched a computerized policeman try — without much success — to direct traffic. “How soon can we get this in English? My entire traffic force would benefit from this.”


Set. Rogers of Nutley concurred, “In the U.S., a cop could conceivably spend his entire career without re-entering a classroom. We need more in-service training after the cop has been on the job awhile, and we intend to use the training here as a model.”

All members of the contingent said they had spent time with their Israeli counterparts. For example, the three state troopers, Sgts. William Malast, Joseph Cannatella and James Kanz, received extensive training in terrorism and counterterrorism tactics.

“This kind of training is important,” asserted Assistant Attorney General James Mulvihill, “because New Jersey will be a venue for national and international events in the near future, including World Cup Soccer. National and international events are sometimes the targets of terrorist acts.”

On the other hand, Israel’s police force has relatively little experience dealing with people known to be infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, said Yair Tsipori, a cadet in the academy’s officer training course with eight years of police experience.

“The Americans have a protocol on how to deal with the AIDS problem, and we need to develop one here as well. The problem will only get worse,” he said.

One area in which Israel does have a great deal of experience is multicultural relations. While complimenting the local police on their outreach work, especially with elders of various ethnic communities, Paul Goldenberg, head of New Jersey’s Office of Bias Crimes and Community Relations, said New Jersey had many hard-won lessons to offer as well.


Goldenberg, who is Jewish, pointed out that there were nearly 900 hate crimes and bias cases in New Jersey last year, including 102 acts of anti-Semitism.

“I came here to share with Israelis my experience with raising cultural awareness and improving relations between the police and the community,” he said.

“Israel has had to absorb 400,000 immigrants in the past few years, and that has created some tensions.”

At the end of their visit to the academy, the Americans watched a videotape of police rescue operations following last year’s Scud missiles attacks on Israel.

When the film ended, they again shook their heads. Peering back at the screen, John Conklin, an investigator in the Division of Criminal Justice, asked an Israeli officer, “How can your guys walk a beat with this hanging over your heads? New Jersey can be difficult, but at least we don’t have to deal with missile attacks.”

Recommended from JTA