July 18, 2024
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Bergen County Sheriff Mike Saudino Visits Israel With Police Unity Tour

Earlier this month, Bergen County Sheriff Mike Saudino joined 52 police officers from across the country on a unity tour delegation to Israel. The Police Unity Tour is comprised of a group of officers from across the country that gather each year to ride bicycles from Ground Zero to Washington, D.C., in order to raise funds for families of fallen law officers. Last year, for the first time, the group was joined by a contingent of Israeli national police officers representing the State of Israel. This group fostered a relationship with the American officers and invited them to participate in this delegation to Israel.

On September 11, the delegation attended a commemoration at the Israel 9/11 memorial along with dignitaries, law enforcement, fire and EMS leaders. The program included a flag ceremony and the recitation of both the American and Israeli national anthems. Ambassador David Friedman, the keynote speaker, memorialized fallen officers from both countries and told the visiting officers, “We have the utmost respect for you and will do everything to make you feel at home.”

The group spent 12 days with the Israeli National Police, taking up residence in a brand-new police academy located in Beit Shemesh. The officers participated in numerous educational programs concentrating on security, counter-terrorism and policing techniques. They were offered a first-hand look at how Israelis police amid threats and conditions they face with the ongoing element of terrorism existing in the country today. The group also partook in various cultural-awareness programs, learning a great deal about Israel’s history. Saudino was delighted to be included on the trip. “This was one of the greatest professional experiences in my 46 years of law enforcement. Learning how the Israeli National Police protect a society at risk was fascinating,” Saudino told The Jewish Link. The trip instilled a tremendous love and respect for the State of Israel, he added.

Bill Schievella, director of communications at the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, also invited on the trip, defined this mission as “one of the greatest experiences in my professional career. It was an honor for me to represent law enforcement in the United States, along with a group of colleagues from New Jersey and throughout the nation, and build bridges with our colleagues in Israel,” said Schievella. He was truly impressed with how people in Israel live in a progressive society and lead positive lives notwithstanding the constant threat of death.

Saudino and Schievella, both non-Jews, described their experience as eye-opening. They were fascinated by the Shabbat dinner they attended along with the many Jewish traditions therein. Perhaps the most outstanding quality the American officers noticed in their Israeli contemporaries was the sense of nationalism displayed for their country. “Until you are there and speak to a 25-year-old Israeli girl who already completed military service, proud to defend her country, you can’t fully appreciate the magnanimity of their patriotism,” said Schievella. The officers returned home with a better understanding of Israeli security techniques as well as a deep admiration for the State of Israel.

By Andrea Nissel

 

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