Saturday February 2, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- Nearly 6,000 miles from home, Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn is getting an in-depth look at how another police force operates.

"I’ve never been here before. It’s overwhelming," Wynn said on Friday morning during a phone interview from Israel.

The chief is on a weeklong visit to the Middle East nation with 14 other U.S. law enforcement agency representatives from across the Northeast to learn how the Israeli National Police handle terrorist threats and other emergencies.

This is the fourth year for the program sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League with the stated purpose of helping "American law enforcement gain a firsthand understanding of the psychological impact of terrorism on civil society" and that allows "them to interact directly with their Israeli police peers."

Wynn was recommended for the program by Canton Police Chief Ken Berkowitz, who has been involved with the program since its inception, Wynn said.

Wynn and the others have met with commanders from the Israel National Police and various other agencies on how they respond to terrorism and deal with border and airport security, the role of technology in policing, and media relations during a crisis.

While the Israeli policing model is quite different -- there is a single national police force -- Wynn feels there are methods he could apply back home.

Wynn said that in Israel "the remediation of critical incidents" is done quickly in order to provide a sense of normalcy for residents.


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"That’s something we haven’t focused on [in Pittsfield]," he said.

The chief is also interested in the use of technology, such as closed-caption cameras, in policing, but pointed out that while the Israeli police rely on technology they "also rely on people."

Wynn said they have a "full agenda," but have also found time to visit some of the holy sites including Jerusalem’s Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where they were given a private Mass by an Italian priest.

Wynn has been surprised by the compact nature of this tiny "western nation" that "you can drive across in a couple of hours."

"We take for granted the expansiveness of our country," he said.

Wynn and the others will be flying home on Monday.

To reach Andrew Amelinckx:
aamelinckx@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6249.
On Twitter: @ BETheAmelinckx