The town of Buckeye, Az., is either at the forefront of homeland-security readiness or under the spell of private-security consultants promising “hands-on” anti-terrorism training in a war zone, says the Arizona Republic. Buckeye has spent $25,500 to send employees to Israel to train in anti-terrorism tactics, even as public-safety departments several times its size are keeping training in-house and relying on the state’s counterterrorism center to keep officers prepared. Buckeye officials say the money is an investment in its efforts to secure vulnerable infrastructure as the town of 40,000, known for dairy farms and sprawling housing developments grows about tenfold by 2030. “We’ve taken a very aggressive stance toward homeland security,” Buckeye Police Chief Dan Saban said.
Anti-terrorism courses already exist through the military, the Georgia-based Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and state agencies like the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center, which coordinates local law-enforcement agencies to share information and prepare for attacks. A cottage industry of private homeland-security consultants, many with military or law-enforcement experience but no formal background in combating terrorism, has sprouted since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, capitalizing on the money flowing toward agencies’ anti-and counterterrorism training. Buckeye sent five employees on the nine-day trip to Israel, which included staying at a beachside hotel once targeted by terrorists and tours of the Dead Sea. The training consisted of meetings with Israeli police and fire officials and visits to hospitals, schools and sites where attacks had taken place. SCAI International, a private security-consulting firm, led the program, its third since the company was formed two years ago by Marc Kahlberg, a former Israeli detective and tourist police-unit commander.