Sheriff Mitch Ralston and his staff hosted a delegation of 16 high-ranking police officials from Israel as part of the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE).
The program, which is administered by Georgia State University, is designed to network law enforcement officers in Georgia with their counterparts in other countries to exchange ideas and to get acquainted with how policing is done around the world.
“It is based on the principle of peer-to-peer training,” said Robert Friedman, a professor at Georgia State who led the delegates. “That way there is a (hands on) learning experience. They don’t simply come to a place just to hear a lecture for two weeks at a university.”
The visit marked the first time an Israeli delegation had partnered with the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office.
“I am very proud that we were recommended for this honor by our partners at the (Georgia Bureau of Investigation) GBI,” Ralston said. “We have made friends in the GILEE program and we will never forget meeting and hosting our Israeli colleagues,”
The delegates, who ranged in rank from brigadier general to commander, had lunch in Ranger at 2400 On The River, before returning for a tour of the sheriff’s office.
An honor guard and bagpiper, along with members of the sheriff’s auxiliary greeted the delegates when they arrived at the sheriff’s office.
Once inside, the group heard a presentation about the sheriff’s office’s community activities and, in particular, the role of auxiliary members in the community.
Delegates were curious to find out if any of the auxiliary members could make arrests.
Members of the auxiliary laughed and Ralston smiled and said they could not.
Friedman pointed out that in Israel, the police have citizen patrols that do make arrests. It illustrated just one difference in how things are done between the two countries.
After the presentation, the delegates were split into two groups to tour the facility.
Ralston led one group through the main facility and explained general operating procedures to the delegates.
He explained the role of the sheriff in the context of county government, as well as his service to the courts.
The delegates seemed very interested in the types of crimes that are committed in Gordon County and the accompanying sentences.
But what seemed to gain the most interest from Ralston’s group were the sheriff’s cars, and one in particular, an antique police cruiser.
Some of the delegates in Ralston’s group put on an old sheriff’s hat and stood by the car for a photo opportunity.
The tour wrapped up around 3:30 and the group made a final stop at Engineered Floors in Calhoun for a look into the textile industry before returning to Atlanta.
“I am assured that we gave a strong, positive impression to our guests, not only of my office and staff, but of the warmth and hospitality of all the people in our community,” Ralston said.
For more information on the GILEE program, visit www.gilee.org.