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CBS New York Investigates: New York law enforcement, security pros leave Israel after attacks disrupt seminar

New York law enforcement, security pros leave Israel after attacks disrupt seminar
New York law enforcement, security pros leave Israel after attacks disrupt seminar 02:34

NEW YORK -- Law enforcement across the Tri-State Area say they're focused on keeping the Jewish community safe from any potential threats.

And some of them just got back from Israel, themselves, after a harrowing weekend.

CBS New York investigative reporter Tim McNicholas has more on a trip that took an unexpected turn.

A group of about 30 law enforcement members from the NYPD and other other local agencies arrived in Israel on Friday for a seminar on threats to the Jewish community. They wound up spending much of their weekend hiding in stairwells and security rooms during bombings.

"My phone is still going off. See what these are?" said Mitch Silber of Community Security Initiative.

READ MORELive Updates: Israel and Hamas at war after Palestinian militants launch deadly attacks from Gaza

Silber hasn't turned off the notifications yet. He just arrived back in New York on Monday morning.

"Every time there's a rocket launch, this app goes off, and depending on where you are it lets you know that there is a rocket launch coming to your direction and then it directs you to shelter in place," Silber said.

It was an unsettling reality for Silber and Richard Priem, who both lead security groups focused on protecting Jewish New Yorkers from antisemitic threats. They were joined in Israel by local law enforcement members for a seminar that was supposed to start Saturday, but it wasn't just push alerts warning them that morning.

READ MOREProtesters on both sides of Israel-Gaza conflict face off again in New York City

"Before we could start the itinerary the first siren went off and we had to go to shelter," said Priem, of Community Security Service.

"From about 6:30 to 9:30 in the morning there must have been about 20 of these sirens that went off. Each and every time, wherever you are in the hotel, you had to get into the stairwell, get into one of the security rooms," Silber added.

READ MOREWhat we know about the Hamas attack on Israel, and Israel's response in Gaza  

Silber said he took a video from his hotel on Saturday showing an Israeli missile intercepting a rocket.

With the attacks impacting travel, the group decided to cut the week-long seminar short and start planning their trip home. They managed to fly to Dubai on Sunday and then back home to New York, where their work continues.

"We're already seeing it. One of the synagogues that we work with had a car drive by and somebody stopping and threatening and shouting at the people that they support Hamas. They're gonna follow Hamas' example," Priem said.

READ MOREIsrael-Hamas war death toll tops 1,500 as Gaza Strip is bombed and gun battles rage for a third day  

On Monday, the NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell said there are currently no credible threats, and the NYPD is working hard to keep people safe "in all religious institutions."

And the department is prepared for more demonstrations.

"We'll be out there in force to make sure everyone gets their right to speak, but were not gonna tolerate any hate crimes whatsoever," Chell said.

That law enforcement group was staying in the city of Ashdod, which has been under attack. Silber said there were attacks just a few miles from them.

Hamas released a statement Monday saying it fired 120 rockets toward two coastal cities -- Ashdod being one of them.

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