While driving over the holidays, residents probably saw electronic signs or large billboards declaring “If You See Something, Say Something.”
The campaign aims to alert local and/or federal law enforcement to suspicious activity that could lead to terrorism or terrorism-related crime. First begun by the New York City Transportation Authority, it was later licensed by the United States Department of Homeland Security for a nationwide campaign.
“Obviously police can’t be everywhere,” said Officer Dan Lane with the Gaithersburg Police Department. “With this campaign, the people who are out there, walking around or doing their normal day-to-day activities at work or school or wherever they are, if something looks out of place, we are encouraging them to, obviously, see it and say something about it.”
So when should you call the authorities? “It’s that Spidey sense,” Lane said, referring to the superhero’s power to detect when something is wrong. When “the little hairs on the back of your neck stick up. (It’s when) something doesn’t feel right.” Residents may feel like it may be nothing or be a bother to local law enforcement but that is not true. “No one’s time is taken away from them,” he said. “No one is bothered by it. Let us make that decision of if it is worth it or not.”
When you alert authorities, make sure to tell them who or what you saw, when and where it occurred and why you believe it to be suspicious. “When they call us, they need to tell us exactly what they are seeing,” Lane said.
Say you see two individuals near a generator at a shopping mall. “What are they doing that makes you go ‘Something is not right about it?’” Lane said. Describe specifically what they are doing that is suspicious, such as adding a box to the generator or working on the wires. Tell authorities what they are wearing, try to see what vehicle they are driving and get the make, model and tag number.
Awareness can be practiced every day by residents. “When we go out to community meetings and (other events), we just encourage people to see something, say something,” Lane said.
For more information, go to www.dhs.gov/see-something-say-something.