Fresh off a weeklong trip to Israel, State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said Monday he was impressed by that nation’s security measures and its meticulous attention to detail.
Edmonson and more than a dozen other law enforcement officials attended a conference hosted and funded by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs last week. Edmonson said he was selected to attend in part because of his role on the governing body of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
“I don’t know that anywhere else on earth could be protected the way they are protected over there,” Edmonson told more than two dozen people gathered at a Catholic Community Radio leadership luncheon. “There’s so much there, and if you don’t have someone there protecting it, believe me, there’s other people in this world that want to destroy it.”
Edmonson said he discussed intelligence gathering, visited a prison and crossed the border at the West Bank.
He also participated in a ride-along with law enforcement officers in Tel Aviv as they responded to calls.
At one point, Edmonson said, he noticed some rising smoke while en route to a restaurant and learned it came from “two mortars that had been shot over from Syria.” But Edmonson said he never felt threatened throughout the trip.
While heavy security measures are commonplace, Edmonson described them as non-intrusive.
“Their people accept the fact that to get into the mall, you’ve got to walk through the magnetometer,” he said. “They live their lives like this.”
In an interview, Edmonson said he came away with some ideas about security checks and balances he will consider applying at State Police. “We can do a better job of really testing and engaging our procedures,” he said, “because you can only find out if you’re prepared if you test them.”
Edmonson said the visit also underscored the importance of law enforcement officials communicating with residents on a regular basis. “When people see something that’s out of the ordinary, make a phone call,” he told the luncheon audience.
As a Christian, Edmonson described his experience in the Holy Land as an “overwhelming” one.
“You could just close your eyes and you could just think about those many wonderful things you heard about growing up and you open them and it’s in front of you,” said Edmonson, a former altar boy who attended a Catholic high school in Alexandria. “It was amazing.”
Edmonson said he got into the Jordan River, visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and saw the Stone of Anointing. He also went on a tour through the tunnels of the Old City.
“It just brought me back to, as a little boy, hearing that from the teachers and priests,” Edmonson said. “I touched everything.”