Connecticut is Not Israel: Mayor Schewel’s Allegation Rejected by Chief Lopez


On April 16, the Durham City Council passed a foreign policy statement making Durham the first city in the United States to boycott police trainings specifically with Israel – the only Jewish majority country on the planet. Voice4Israel has learned through public record requests that Mayor Steve Schewel and Mayor Pro Tempore Jillian Johnson referred to the statement as the Israel Resolution.” 

Mayor Schewel Blames Retired Police Chief Lopez 

Speaking at Judea Reform on October 4, Durham’s Mayor Steve Schewel repeatedly alleged that the Israel Resolution he wrote focused on Israel because retired Chief of Police Jose Lopez received militarized training in Israel. Mayor Schewel was echoing allegations made by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) – an organization that promotes boycotting Israel and an organization that Mayor Schewel has financially supported. 

Durham Police Clarification 

On October 10, Durham’s Deputy Chief A.R. Marsh, Sr. set the record straight. In his memo (see right), Marsh wrote that Chief Lopez had “no interaction with the [Israeli] military or training on military tactics, equipment, etc.” The Deputy Chief went on to explain that in response to civil disturbances, the Durham police have employed “best practices” from the United States. 

Police Memo
(October 10, 2018)

Chief Lopez Received No Military Training from Israel

“…As it pertains to Chief Lopez’s (Ret.) training trip to Israel, no one else from our police department accompanied him. There were no policy or tactical changes resulting from Chief Lopez’s visit to Israel. The scope of his training was on leadership in response to terrorist incidents and mass casualty events. There was no interaction with the military or training on military tactics, equipment, etc. I confirmed this with Chief Lopez via telephone.

With respect to the multiple civil disturbances that we have dealt with in our City, I have been in the command post for most of them, and all measures taken by law enforcement have been in response to the behavior of the crowd at that given point in time. The tactics employed were the best practices at that time here in the United States…”

A. R. Marsh, Sr. 
Deputy Chief 
Investigations and Administrative Service
Police Department, City of Durham

Voice4Israel Speaks with Chief Jose Lopez, Sr.

Retired Chief Jose Lopez Sr. spoke with several board members of Voice4Israel. Lopez explained that in 2008 he attended a law enforcement seminar in Israel run by the highly respected Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for commanders on “mass casualty incidents involving bombings.” Lopez stated that he received no military training in Israel and that the only military training he has ever received was through the United States Air Force. 

Rejecting the Mayor’s Allegation: Connecticut is Not Israel 

Responding to Mayor Schewel’s allegation, Chief Lopez stated, “To say I had military training [with Israel] is with the full knowledge I did not.” When asked if Mayor Schewel had contacted him about the Israel Resolution, Lopez stated, “The Mayor has my phone number. He has not once reached out and called me.” Lopez added, “I have never sent out my staff to do any military training.” Lopez explained that no member of his force trained in Israel and that some Durham police officers have military training from their time in the United States military.  

Lopez explained that when he was Chief of Police and responding to what he called out of town anarchists, tactics used by the Durham police were learned in Connecticut at a mobile field force on riot control and not in Israel. Lopez added that these tactics were best practice in the United States at the time.  

"The Mayor has my phone number. He has not once reached out and called me.”

Retired Chief Jose Lopez, Sr.

Opposing White Supremacy

Retired Chief Lopez spoke with pride when sharing that the ADL focuses on anti-black and anti-Hispanic white supremacy which he said is a serious issue in North Carolina.
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