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Chief Deputy Raymond Merritt Traveled To Israel For Public Safety Initiative

For Immediate Release

Contact: Col. (Ret.) Brent Cummings, M.S., Director                                                         

404-413-1085 or gcummings3@gsu.edu

Tift County Chief Deputy Returns From Executive Education In Israel

Chief Deputy Raymond Merritt.jpg

ATLANTA - Chief Deputy Raymond Merritt of the Tift County Sheriff's Office has returned to Georgia from Israel after an intensive two weeks of public safety leadership training with the country's top police executives for the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange's (GILEE) 31st annual peer-to-peer executive education program.

Merritt was part of a delegation that included 17 Georgia police chiefs, sheriffs, command staff and a deputy director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Assistant Commissioner Joshua Lamb of the Georgia Department of Public Safety served as Head of Delegation. GILEE Director Col. (Ret.) Brent Cummings led the delegation, which included GILEE Founding Director Robbie Friedmann and Associate Director Nadia Borissova, who managed operations.


GILEE is recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Treasury as a professional education program. GILEE shapes police executive leadership development through global engagement and an exceptional peer-to-peer experiential learning environment. It enhances public safety in the communities its delegates serve by sharing best practices in homeland security and community policing that emphasize the protection of civil rights and liberties. The exchange with the Israel Police is one of several global professional exchanges GILEE hosts through the year.

The Israel delegation learned about strategies to successfully lead law enforcement programs and personnel, along with how to use community policing to build safer neighborhoods for minority communities in partnership with all community stakeholders.

"We expose our delegates to policing systems under different cultures, different legal systems and different structures to help enhance their professional leadership development," Cummings said. "For example, leadership dilemmas faced by Israel Police executives are relevant to leadership dilemmas our delegates face at home. They learn to recognize challenges and how to better deal with them while forming their own thoughts on how to be better leaders. Our delegates learn important lessons from their peers on how to better serve their own communities."

Col. Billy Hitchens, Georgia's Commissioner of Public Safety, recently spoke to this year's GILEE delegates about how his experiences as a delegate last summer led to improvements in his agency's security protocols. While in Israel, they visited a local police station whose chief led them to a reception at the home of a local sheik.

"Chief Davidov, the commander of the Rahat police station, was our guide for this event," Hitchens said. "You could tell the pride he had in telling us about the progress he and his team had made in his community. That was obvious when we went to the sheik's home. The sheik went on to tell us how much the police had bridged the gap in the community under the chief's leadership. It was a great example of what community policing can do to bring a community together."

Israel Police Commander Jear Davidov, the commander of the Rahat police station, was a 2022 GILEE graduate. On October 7, 2023, he was killed battling Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Re'im. The GILEE delegation paid tribute to his family during their visit.

More than 1,300 law enforcement executives from the U.S. and countries around the world have graduated from GILEE peer-to-peer exchange programs in several countries and Georgia during its 33 years. Additionally, more than 45,000 public safety, homeland security and police executives have attended GILEE-led special briefings, seminars, workshops, training sessions and conferences featuring experts on issues related to homeland security, public safety, community policing and law enforcement.

GILEE is a research center within Georgia State University's Andrew Young School of Policy Studies whose focus on the protection of civil and human rights during its development of executive leadership exemplifies the core mission of the school. GILEE receives its funding from external sources. No financial support comes from Georgia State University or the Georgia State University Foundation.

For more information on GILEE, go to gilee.gsu.edu.

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