Officer back from law exchange program in Israel

CONYERS -- Conyers Police Department Lt. Jackie Dunn is back to working in the department's criminal investigations division after recently returning from a trip to Israel and bringing back a perspective that he said will help local policing efforts.

Dunn was one of about 20 other police and law enforcement officials who participated in this year's annual trip to Israel as part of the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange program. The 14-day program started May 25 where the group worked with Israeli police in counter-terrorism initiatives, Dunn explained.

Part of the purpose of the program was to see how that country's issues compare to local issues.

"We were shown a lot of times where terrorists had attempted to infiltrate the border or a security area and they were successful in preventing the attack," Dunn said.

The group visited a maximum security prison, where Fatah terrorists from the West Bank were held, "which was very interesting," Dunn said. And they also learned about screening methods for determining legal and illegal residents.

In addition to going to all the Israeli borders, the group also witnessed just how much security became a part of residents' lives. For instance, law requires everyone going to the local mall to pass through a metal detector, Dunn said.

"We'd see how the children's bus stops included a bomb bunker ... your daily life went on, but they were ready for any move of a terrorist attack," Dunn said.

The Conyers Police lieutenant explained how being in Israel, an estimated 8,000-square-mile country completely surrounded by antagonists, enlightened him on what it means to not only deal with policing and crime fighting, but to also have the responsibility of fighting terrorism.

"It broadens my perspective. Sometimes we think we have it bad here, but when you go there, you see the daily peace of mind that we enjoy isn't enjoyed everywhere," Dunn said.

"We take security for granted until there is a catastrophe. We can implement normal security measures that will hopefully not impede people's freedom," Dunn added.

The delegation was also taken to the site of a failed terrorist attack and learned how the Israeli police force prevented terrorists from completing the attack.

Dunn pointed to the role of police intelligence and said he learned the importance of staying in touch with the community and with other departments.

"They're able to prevent a lot of bad situations by being up on their intelligence and preventing it beforehand," Dunn said.

Dunn said the delegation also got a chance to mix in cultural events during the visit, including a swim in the Dead Sea and a baptismal in the Jordan River by new state Juvenile Justice Commissioner Garland Huntand, who is also an ordained minister.

"He probably baptized about 15 of us," Dunn said.

The experience was "a perfect balance of learning about culture, comparative law enforcement, geography, Israel's hospitality and how all of these things are dependent on one another," Dunn said.

"This was definitely not something you could have learned about in a classroom, and I can honestly say that this was one of the most enriching learning experiences of my career," Dunn said. "The GILEE program is a tremendous enhancement to our profession."

Eighteen delegations have participated in the GILEE program. Dunn was the fourth representative from Conyers to participate.