Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Burbank received some terrorist training in preparation for the Olympics in 2002, before he became the city's top cop. But the trip he's about to embark on will be something completely different.
Burbank has been selected as one of 13 police chiefs from major U.S. cities across the country to attend a weeklong training session on counterterrorism in Israel. The trip, paid for completely by the Anti-Defamation League, will begin Saturday.
"I'm quite honored to go to their training. (The Anti-Defamation League) is known for providing high-quality training," Burbank said. "It'll be a valuable learning experience."
After being asked to apply, Burbank said he sent in a resume and filled out a questionnaire and, through a selection process, was picked as one of the chiefs to attend the training.
"What was most intriguing about this was they said, 'Don't bring your suit and tie. You won't be sitting in a meeting. You'll be going out and seeing firsthand what they do,"' he said.
Burbank said obviously Salt Lake City is not a big target for terrorists. But when talking about issues such as homeland security and immigration enforcement, "It all falls back to a local issue. We are the first responders."
If local police agencies can't make their communities secure, it's hard for societies to function, he said. Burbank said he hoped to "learn from someone who has experienced and gone through it, find out what has led them to that point."
Burbank said local officials want to do all they can to never get to the point where heavily armed guards are required to patrol local malls.
"If going to the mall is like going to get on an airplane, no one would go," he said. "Will terrorists come to Salt Lake? Probably not. We're not a high target for a terrorist organization. But you have to be prepared to deal with that. Dealing with a terrorist shooting people in a mall is no different than a teenage kid who seems to have gone wrong."
In addition to observing how the Israelis deal with security, Burbank will also get to observe how they deal with mass casualties, perform rescue operations and establish control after a terrorist attack.
The group will be in an area that "can be unstable at times," he said. He said there was some risk involved, but that with the number of police chiefs going, he was confident there would be a high level of security provided."It's a unique opportunity that came along. The opportunity to see firsthand how things are done is most intriguing," Burbank said.
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