Learning at the 'Harvard of Anti-Terrorism' Suburban Police Tour Israel, Say Methods Do More Than Give a Feeling of Security

Article excerpt

Byline: Patrick Garmoe Daily Herald Staff Writer

Back-to-school time means hitting the stores.

You drive over to the mall, and find outside the parking lot a line of cars waiting under the watchful eye of a machine-gunner in a guard tower.

Police look at each driver, and their passengers, ask a few questions, and pass a mirror beneath each car.

You park, and then another security officer, with a rifle slung over his shoulder, checks through your bag and runs an electronic wand over you.

You finally enter the mall, do your shopping and head for the food court, where you notice on the receipt a "security fee" of an extra buck or two.

Welcome to Israel, where security gets priority over political correctness.

Three suburban police officers and a corporate security chief all recently went back to school, taking a tour of Israel - which they call the Harvard of anti-terrorism.

Algonquin Police Chief Russell Laine and Deputy Police Chief Ed Urban; Lake in the Hills Public Safety Director Jim Wales; and John Demand, director of corporate security for Rolling Meadows-based Capitol Holdings, say they got a crash course in real security.

Their goal was to return with practical tips on anti-terrorism that would be useful back on their suburban turf.

They learned from experts locked in a nonstop battle against suicide bombers.

"We have a lot of theory here," Urban said. "They practice it every day."

During a 10-day June tour, the four - all of whom either paid their own way or received grants - went behind-the-scenes learning about security everywhere from walled-in universities to malls.

Under the constant threat of suicide bombers, security teams have become skilled at searching massive crowds for people with sinister motives.

"I was amazed that they could check 16,000 cars for bombs in one day going into a shopping center," Urban said.

The heart of the difference between Israel and the suburbs, indeed all of America, they said, is Israel operates under a different philosophy.

Israel is concerned about actually being secure - not just making Israelis feel secure.

"They focus on the bomber, we focus on the bomb," Urban said.

"We put a lot of emphasis on being politically correct," Wales lamented, saying that things done in America largely offer only a veneer of safety.

For example, when it comes to security checkpoints in America, police often will randomly choose every third or sixth person to search, to avoid accusations of bias.

In Israel, Laine said the mission is to catch people.

People who look or act like they might be terrorists are questioned more thoroughly, and given more attention. …