ATLANTA – Gov. Nathan and First Lady Sandra Deal opened the Governor’s Mansion to Georgia’s finest and their friends the evening of May 16, hosting an appreciation gala for state and local public safety officials. Held to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE), the event brought together law enforcement and civic leaders, members of the diplomatic corps and corporate partners to recognize GILEE’s contributions to global public safety.
Major Gen. (Ret.) Dr. Isaac Ben-Israel, chairman of the Israeli Space Agency and the National Council for Research and Development, gave the keynote speech during dinner. In his remarks, Ben-Israel emphasized the growing threat of cyber-terrorism and the potential damage to public and private infrastructure do to incessant attacks on these structures.
Other notable guests who shared their GILEE experiences with the audience included Col. Mark McDonough, Georgia’s commissioner of public safety; Chief George Turner of the Atlanta Police Department; GILEE Board Chairman Jay Davis; and Dr. Robert Friedmann, GILEE founder and professor emeritus of criminal justice at Georgia State University. Ben-Israel was introduced by Opher Aviran, Consul General of Israel to the Southeast.
“I am an avid supporter of GILEE,” says Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan, a 1993 graduate of GILEE’s training exchange with Israel. “When we send our men and women into critical incidents, it is too late to worry about whether we have trained them properly. GILEE delegations gain valuable, peer-to-peer training with international partners, where they are exposed to new techniques, new skills and new ideas – many that validate the public safety practices we use here.
“GILEE will be more important than ever in the near future,” he continues. “Training with our peers in public safety will strengthen our ability to fight international or trans-national organized crime, which is rapidly becoming a threat to national security.”
Atlanta Police Chief George Turner, left, and Georgia Commissioner of Public Safety Col. Mark McDonough speak at GILEE appreciation gala
In the last two decades, GILEE has provided more than 800 senior law enforcement officials worldwide – more than half from Georgia – critical knowledge in current public safety practices through more than 200 peer-to-peer training exchanges. More than 15,000 public and private leaders in law enforcement and public safety have attended GILEE’s special briefings, such as the annual Business Continuity Summit.
Recognized as a professional education training program by the U.S. departments of Justice and Treasury, GILEE is the only non-law enforcement body to receive the Governor’s Public Safety Award. It has also received the J. Edgar Hoover Award and Georgia State University’s Service Award.
“The GILEE program was one of the best experiences of my 30-year law enforcement career,” says Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan, who received counterterrorism training in Israel as a GILEE delegate. “I am thankful to be a part of the continuing growth and reach of the program over the last 20 years, and look forward to GILEE’s continued growth and prosperity.”
“GILEE graduates blanket the state of Georgia,” says Reginald “Ray” Moore, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service, Atlanta Field Office. Moore has partnered in planning and hosting GILEE’s annual Business Continuity Summit. “What you become when you go through GILEE is an ambassador for life.”
The event at the Governor’s Mansion will be long remembered by Georgia’s law enforcement community. “GILEE, the Department of Criminal Justice and the Andrew Young School are grateful to Gov. and First Lady Deal for the evening’s extraordinary recognition and honor,” says Friedmann. “We are proud that GILEE – a signature international program at Georgia State University – has been recognized in such an exceptional way for its impact on public safety worldwide. We look forward to doing even more important work in the next 20 years.”
Photos of the evening are posted at http://photos.gov.georgia.gov/GovernorNathanDeal/May-2012. Click on 5.16.12 Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner. More photos and information about the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange are available online at http://gilee.org.