Police State/Civil Liberties

Do Small Town Cops Need Training in Israeli Counterterror Techniques?

By Matthew Petti, Reason

U.S. taxpayers have been paying for training that encourages aggressive policing.

Georgia state Rep. Jason Spencer believed he was being trained by an Israeli special forces officer, but was actually an unwitting participant in a sketch by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen. Under the impression that he was at risk of a terrorist kidnapping, the Republican agreed to Cohen’s increasingly absurd instructions, shouting racial slurs, dropping his pants, and threatening to turn any would-be attacker into “a homosexual.” Footage of the encounter made it onto the comedy series Who Is America? and ended Spencer’s political career.

Spencer is not the first Georgia politician to fall in love with the mystique of Israeli counterterrorism training. There’s a thriving cottage industry for American officials who believe their towns and cities are under terroristic threat and that exotic special tactics are necessary to quell the danger.

The practice of Israeli-style police training began at the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE) in the 1990s. The institution also organized a U.S.-Chinese police exchange at the request of China’s government, among other programs.


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