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Friday, October 29, 2004

Utah County sheriffs get security tips in Israel

One day, more advanced equipment will be available to first responders throughout the nation with help from input by sheriffs and their personnel who recently returned from a trip to Israel, Utah County Sheriff Jim Tracy says.

Tracy and sheriff's Sgt. Skip Curtis spent one week in September, with more than three dozen other sheriffs and their personnel, traveling throughout a nation that regularly sees the tragedies of terrorism.

The trip, sponsored by the National Sheriffs' Association, was a fact-finding mission as well as a chance to look at systems in place in Israel that may be adaptable to homeland security issues this nation may see in the future, Tracy said.

In many ways, the trip was reassuring because agencies in Utah County are working on some things already in place in Israel, he said.

But, the sheriffs and their personnel also saw more advanced weapons and systems than those available in the United States, Tracy said, adding America is behind when it comes to such equipment for the nation's first responders.

Tracy said he would like to see the equipment developed nationally and made available to local
agencies through homeland security grants.

'We will take this back to the Department of Justice,' said Tracy, who is a member of the National Sheriffs' Association committee on weapons of mass destruction and homeland security, to see what may be the best way to develop the weapons and systems for agencies in the United States.

The sheriffs and their people received several classified briefings during their trip. They looked at port security as well as internal surveillance systems -- the camera infrastructure with ready response capability.

Israel's advanced equipment includes high-tech modifications to camera systems and a gun that can shoot around corners.

The equipment could be used to prevent or deal with a terrorist attack in America -- the threat of which is still real -- or other events.