The Jewish Journal reports that – for nine days in February – eight of the highest ranking officers from the Los Angeles Police Department toured Israel. LAPD Deputy Chief and commander of the Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau, Michael Downing, organised the tour and LAPD Information Technology Bureau commander Horace Frank ‘headed’ it.
The group visited private security firms and drone manufacturers most of which, according to Portside, were formed by veterans of the Israeli military’s top-secret 8200 Unit, which, like the US National Security Agency, engages in mass spying and cyber warfare. Online comments:
- Max Blumenthal, a journalist and critic of Israel with a large online following, tweeted: “LAPD delegation heads to Israel to learn lessons in control, domination and exclusion.”
- @JustBadre, tweeted asking Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti: “why is #lapd in Israel on taxpayer $? Should #lapd be training with forces that have human rights violations?”
The LAPD group saw surveillance drones manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries and Sky Sapience.
A spokeswoman for IAI explained that while showing the company “wanted to emphasize the fact that drones can be very helpful in giving intelligence in urban scenarios… you need it now, you need it quick, you need to see what’s inside a window, and what’s behind this building.”
They were very interested in the HoverMast 100, a new tethered drone from Sky Sapience which, Defense Update reports, can elevate to an altitude of 150 feet in 15 seconds, providing a valuable intelligence gathering tool for tactical units. It can intercept wireless communications and its cameras are capable of facial recognition.
Israel and USA: “civilized nations” – or rogue states?
On 6th February, the group attended the Big Data Intelligence Conference in Herzliya. In the opening speech, Horace Frank, commander of the LAPD Information Technology (IT) Bureau referred to what he feels are shared values between the US and Israel:
“As civilized nations, we are all confronted with, in many cases, the same enemy: the ever-growing threat of terrorism and other major criminal elements.”