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Globe North commentary

Local officials at a counter-terrorism seminar in Jerusalem.Anti-Defamation League/New England Region/New England Region

Law officers learn lessons in Mideast

Skepticism, apprehension, and scrutiny have recently characterized relations between citizens and police across much of the nation. Yet in a fast-changing world, we are also beneficiaries of protections and safety that should never be taken for granted.

When I learned that 14 local top law enforcement officials participated in a Nov. 8-17 security training mission in Israel, I was both impressed and curious. During this counterterrorism seminar, they met with counterparts in the Israeli Police and also visited with members of the Palestinian Civil Police Force.

It was the fifth such trip organized by the Anti-Defamation League, the world’s leading organization opposing anti-Semitism and hate.


Bedford Chief Robert Bongiorno told me that he returned with a comprehensive appreciation of the work of the Israeli Police, and not just of their strategies and tactics. “I also gained valuable leadership skills that are needed to fight both crime and terrorism simultaneously,” he said.

When Bongiorno met with Palestinian police officials, he saw similarities and common ground. “The seminar was about policing, and not politics,” he said. “Their executives spoke about the lack of sufficient resources for training, equipment, and hiring and retention. And, thousands of miles away, executives in Massachusetts face some of the same challenges.”

It occurred to me that law enforcement officials, no matter where they practice or under what conditions, have the safety of their citizenry most at heart. Despite the great risks of the business, they work vigilantly to keep us secure. And on this mission, they wanted to learn the most they could about how to continue doing just that.

Funding for the trip was provided by the Gal Foundation. In addition to Bongiorno, participants included Boston Police Superintendent William G. Gross; Chief Brian Kyes of Chelsea; Chief Steve Mazzie of Everett; Chief Ken Ferguson of Framingham; Chief Len Campanello of Gloucester; Chief Robert Picariello of Marblehead; Chief Howard Mintz of Newton; Chief Terrence M. Cunningham of Wellesley; Lieutenant Colonel Sharon Costine of the Massachusetts State Police; MBTA Transit Police Chief Ken Green; John Gibbons, US Marshal for the District of Massachusetts; Secret Service Assistant Special Agent in Charge Tom Baker; and Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian.


Bongiorno and Koutoujian put together a slide presentation of the trip, which they and other participants were scheduled to narrate during Sabbath services Friday night at Temple Shalom Emeth in Burlington.

“It is imperative we educate our elected officials on the federal level that local communities need the resources from the federal government to combat any future threats,” said Bongiorno. “We must continue to fight for local resources to meet these changing demands of the 21st century.

“We should not have to wait for another terrorist act, like what occurred in Boston and Watertown, to continually update our training and equipment.”

Police officers and law enforcement executives are only human. Despite their best efforts, they can make mistakes, which can sometimes result in tragic losses of life. But I could see from this trip that they also never stop learning and growing, or honing their public safety skills, for the betterment of all of us. For that, I am very grateful.




Is casino lawsuit frivolous?

It’s hard to see how this isn’t a frivolous lawsuit, given the provision that decisions of the gaming commission with respect to licensing are not subject to judicial review. (“Boston sues panel to try to halt Everett casino,” Jan. 6)

In any event, these delays are unacceptable. The law was signed in 2011 and the casino opening is not in sight.

OBSERVER08 Observer08

Bikes off the streets — or not

I’m in favor of anything that keeps bikes off the streets. (“Tacking a snowy terrain on a fat bike is gaining traction,” Jan. 4)

capejack CAPEJACK

Sorry capejack, this trend is also putting bikes on the streets. I’ve seen these bikes ridden by year-round commuters to deal with snow and ice.

worldly10201 WORLDLY10201