One of the organizations that sponsors these trainings is the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The ADL is a non-profit that works to combat anti-Semitism and advocate for Israel. In this context, the ADL runs a National Counter-Terrorism Seminar that has sent hundreds of top ranking officials to Israel to learn about “combatting terror” since 2003. That same year the ADL established an Advanced Training School that brings delegations of Israeli law enforcement to speak to American law enforcement officials, involving over 1,000 U.S. participants since the program began.
The Police Department of Oakland, California, is among the departments that have sent delegates to Israel. An official serving in the Oakland Police Department attended a training in Israel with the ADL as a delegate of the National Counter-Terrorism Seminar in September 2015. In addition, the Oakland Police Department trained with the “YaMaM”, an Israeli Border Police “counter-terrorism” unit, when it participated in Urban Shield in 2011. The Israeli Border Police trained alongside the Oakland Police Department and other police forces worldwide, including the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, winning some of the expo’s competitions in 2010 and 2011, including the international Urban Shield “counter-terror” competition against top rated police and federal SWAT teams from around the world in 2013. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents also participated in Urban Shield’s SWAT competition in 2017. Urban Shield received funding from private military contractor Blackwater (now Academi), and weapons makers TASER and BAE Systems.
After nationwide criticism of Urban Shield, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors was pressured to mandate a set of principles and guidelines that Urban Shield must comply with. As a result, a taskforce was created to assess the impacts of Urban Shield on the community. In response, the Stop Urban Shield Coalition released a damning report card in which they found that Urban Shield failed or was insufficient at addressing the concern areas put forth by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.
In 2018, the Stop Urban Shield Coalition successfully campaigned to end Urban Shield “as currently constituted” in Alameda County as of 2019. However, the militarized practices and trainings for law enforcement that Urban Shield represents have not ended.