DPS Deputy Commissioner, Lt. Col. William W. Hitchens, III, has returned to Georgia from Israel after an intensive two weeks of public safety leadership training with the country’s top police executives.
Hitchens was part of a 20-member delegation that partnered with the Israel Police for the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange’s (GILEE) 30th annual peer-to-peer executive training program. While in Israel, they were shown best practices and the latest technologies in policing and public safety. They learned more about strategies to successfully lead law enforcement programs and use community policing to build safer neighborhoods for minority communities in partnership with all community stakeholders.
The delegation included 12 Georgia police chiefs and command staff — including the Atlanta and Gwinnett public school system chiefs — three Georgia sheriffs, the director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), a law enforcement coordinator for the Department of Justice, the director of the Georgia Public Safety Training Center and a senior law enforcement official from Tennessee.
Director Michael Register of the GBI served as Head of Delegation. GILEE Founding Director Robbie Friedmann and Associate Director Col. (Ret.) Brent Cummings led the delegation while Assistant Director Nadia Borissova managed its operations.
During their orientation, the delegates heard from several former GILEE delegates including Chattanooga Police Chief Celeste Murphy and John King, Georgia’s Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner, whose interest focused on the use of volunteers in support of law enforcement operations during his time in Israel. He gave the keynote address prior to their departure.
“This will be the most impactful professional experience in your law enforcement career,” King said. “This experience has forged relationships that will last a lifetime. You’re going to be exposed to something truly extraordinary. It’s important that you think now about what you’re going to bring back, how you’re going to share your knowledge. You have a responsibility to give back.”
“GILEE gives U.S. law enforcement leaders an opportunity to expand their professional perspective by visiting their peers,” Cummings said. They are able to witness firsthand how their peers perform differently but also share many similarities. This broadening experience through peer-to-peer exchange makes these executives better leaders, which helps our communities receive better services.”
Nearly 1,250 law enforcement executives from the U.S. and countries around the world have graduated from GILEE peer-to-peer exchange programs during its 32 years. Additionally, almost 43,000 public safety, homeland security and police executives have attended GILEE-led special briefings, seminars, workshops, training sessions and conferences featuring experts on issues related to homeland security, public safety, community policing and law enforcement.
GILEE is a research center within Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. It enhances public safety by nurturing partnerships within and across public law enforcement agencies and the private sector. Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, GILEE’s focus on the protection of civil and human rights and its development of executive leadership exemplifies the core mission of the school.
“’The role of policing’ — to quote John Alderson, who many consider the father of community policing in Britain in the 1970s and 80s — ‘is to guarantee the freedom of movement of people and merchandise. Current policing policies and practices are challenged by many communities and by decision makers’,” Friedmann said. “Bringing police closer to the community and the community closer to the police is the essence of community policing. We aim at sharing best practices to achieve closer proximity with the community to provide better police service.”