LAPD goes to Israel, falls in love with drones and mass surveillance

The HoverMast-100, an Israeli surveillance drone that the LAPD hopes to add to its arsenal. (Sky Sapience)

The Jewish Journal has an incredible write-up of the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) recent visit to Israel.

For nine days early this month, eight of the LAPD’s highest ranking officers toured Israel on a trip organized by LAPD Deputy Chief and commander of the Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau, Michael Downing, and headed by LAPD Information Technology Bureau commander Horace Frank.

While it’s unclear how much the trip cost taxpayers, Frank told the Journal that the junket was financed with “grant funding that was available for us to look at emergency technologies and best practices.”

Since 2001, the US government has doled out tens of billions of dollars in federal grants to local and state police departments in the name of fighting terrorism, so it’s likely that the grant that paid for the LAPD’s Israel trip came from DHS.

Though LAPD officers have visited Israel in the past, this appears to have been the most high-level trip to date. But this was not your typical propaganda tour.

Instead of stopping at the Western Wall or Yad Vesham as many foreign dignitaries do, officers visited Israel’s private security firms and drone manufacturers, most of them formed by veterans of the Israeli military’s top-secret 8200 Unit, which, like the US National Security Agency, engages in mass spying and cyber warfare

On 6 Febuary, the LAPD group attended the Big Data Intelligence Conference in Herzliya, where officers salivated at the prospect of using invasive, abuse-prone Israeli surveillance products (used to control Palestinians) on the people of Los Angeles (the brown, black and politically active lefty ones, of course).

In an opening speech to kick off the conference, Frank referred to what he feels are shared values between the US and Israel: “As civilized nations, we are all confronted with, in many cases, the same enemy: The ever-growing threat of terrorism and other major criminal elements.” How very kind of him to say.

Of all the Fourth Amendment-destroying products they came across, Frank and his fellow officers were most attracted to the drones. As The Jewish Journal reports:

Surveillance drones manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Sky Sapience were also hot items on the LAPD tour. Both Frank and Perez lit up when talking about the HoverMast, a new tethered drone from Sky Sapience that was just released to the IDF late last year.

On the Sky Sapience website, the HoverMast 100 is advertised as follows (emphasis mine):

Whether your mission is locating illegals attempting to cross your border, crowd control at a political rally, or perhaps increasing security at your local electricity plant, Sky Sapience’s HoverMast-100, tethered hovering machine, combines engineering genius and innovative materials to provide exceptional observation and surveillance capabilities.

I suppose such a product is fitting for a police force regularly engaged in racial profiling and suppression of First Amendment protected activity.

Speaking to the Journal, Frank couldn’t stop gushing about Israeli tech giants like Nice Systems, which is currently providing mass video surveillance at the Olympics, morphing Sochi into a virtual police state.

Frank also hailed Verint, an Israeli surveillance firm that, according to investigative journalist James Bamford, was contracted by the NSA to wiretap Americans.

Reports the Journal:

Both companies already count the LAPD as a client. But, Frank said, “we’re looking at some of their additional solutions … They have a lot of new technologies that we are very much interested in.”

Nice System’s president of security, Yaron Tchwella, spoke at the conference about the company’s ability to help government agencies capture and store the billions of calls, emails, messages and social media posts that their populations generate each day, then analyze it in real time to detect potential threats.

Israel’s “targeted killing” policy, which was once condemned by the United States (under the George W. Bush administration, ironically enough) has since been embraced by President Obama as the leading method in fighting the never-ending war on terror. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that surveillance and cyber warfare seem to be following a similar pattern.

Still, without dedicated police state enthusiasts in the United States, the importaion of abusive Israeli practices would not be possible, as the Journal explains:

The LAPD-Israel bond was in large part fused by former LAPD Chief William Bratton, who made official trips to Israel to learn about the country’s advanced counter-terrorism tactics during his chiefdom from 2002 to 2009. At a town hall meeting in Los Angeles near the end of his term, Bratton said of Israeli intelligence experts: “They are our allies. They are some of the best at what they do in the world, and that close relationship has been one of growing strength and importance.”

Today Bill Bratton is the New York City police commissioner and was appointed by the left’s latest progressive savior, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who just last month attended a secret meeting with AIPAC, the leading pro-Israel lobby, where he declared his unbending loyalty to defending Israel.

Good luck New York City, you’re going to need it.




The LAPD does NOT & Should NOT have gone to ISrael!


Razor sharp article. As in Northern Ireland, so in Israel, technologies of colonial oppression are finessed to be shipped back to the imperial metropolis to police the neo liberal project, but globally they cannot hold. long live BDS.

Rania Khalek

Rania Khalek's picture

Rania Khalek is an independent journalist reporting on the underclass and marginalized.