Following are some responses to questions that you might have about the “Ending the Deadly Exchange in Maryland Campaign. If you have additional questions not on this list, please contact Susan Kerin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. What is the problem with US police officers receiving these trainings?
Q. You say that there was a 2017 training of many local police by Israeli police and possibly military. Who attended and who offered the training?
A. The training was through JINSA. We have attempted several times to get details about which police attended are still attempting to do that. If the Police Departments are to regain trust in the community, they need to be transparent about their practices, including trainings.
In contrast, the DC Police Department has been compliant to Freedom of Information requests from the public.
Q. Why are you picking on Israel?
A. As with the successful campaign in Durham, North Carolina, we support having a ban on all international exchanges with any country in which officers receive military-style training.
However, we have, thus far, found no other types of international training, except those provided in Israel. The trainings of US police in Israel are quite ubiquitous, even systematic. The research site Palestine is here identifies nearly 240 police departments across the country that have had these trainings. One of the organizations that organizes these events boasts that it has trained over 10,000 police officers. The ADL boast they have trained 150,000 police on military and surveillance tactics either in the U.S. or Israel.
Q. One of the concerns you cite are that the trainings are inconsistent with US civil liberties. What do you base that on?
A. Several police officers, including one from Baltimore City, have commented in news article that the information they learned in the training violate constitutional rights.
“The regular use of profiling by Israeli officials is a technique that is not only illegal in the United States but could be detrimental to the complex threats in America.” Captain Roman Zaryk Baltimore City Police Department
… as far as translating Israeli … strategies to the United States, there are a lot of things we can’t do because of our Constitution.” Chief Rick Knox Olivette Police Chief (near St. Louis)
Q. When was the last known training?
A. The most recent training occurred in December 2019, when Rockville Police Chief, Victor Brito went on a JINSA-sponsored training in Israel.
Q. Who organizes and pays for these trainings?
A number of groups organize and finance military-style trainings ncluding the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Jewish Institute for the National Security of America (JINSA), the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and Strategic Solutions International (SSI).
A. Most of the time the trip’s expenses are paid for by these organizations rather than the police department. The exception is SSI which requires police departments to pay for travel costs.
Q. Do private firms also offer military-style trainings to our police?
A. Yes, private companies teach police military-style tactics. Here is one that mentions the Montgomery County, Maryland State and Baltimore City Police Departments as clients. The owner is a former member of Shin Bet (Israel’s intelligence service).
Q. Do you have any evidence of any negative consequences from these trainings?
A. Two Maryland spying scandals involved police officers who had recently returned from a training in Israel:
Spying on Peace Activists — In April 2005, the head of the Maryland Police Department returned from a training in Israel. Between 2005-2007, the Department engaged in spying on peace activists. This illegal activity was uncovered by the ACLU.
Montgomery County Surveillance Program on Muslims – In 2014, Montgomery County Police (with County officials) began implementing Countering Violent Extremism, a surveillance program targeting Muslims. The Montgomery county chief of police who was actively engaged in the program and the assistant police chief who gave presentations were both alumni of the Israel trainings.
Q. Are there other communities that have been successful in a campaign similar to the one in Maryland?
A. Yes. In Durham, North Carolina, the city council adopted a resolution to cease these trainings. In Northampton, Massachusetts and Vermont, the police chiefs have agreed to stop police training in Israel. Many other communities, including those in DC and Virginia are doing advocacy work similar to ours.
Q. Why is this an issue if only a handful of officers in Maryland have received trainings?
A. The officers who are trained are the leadership of these police forces. In fact, the ADL training specifically states that the training is reserved for commanders. But more importantly, these programs have been “brought to scale” in Maryland. In 2017, the Montgomery County police chief organized a regional training where Israeli personnel came to Rockville to provide training to dozens of local police officers.
We are doing advocacy for all Police Departments in Maryland that have sent police for military-style training.
Q. What other resources can you share?
You can find more resources here.