Reporting of suspicious activity is among the key focal points for Antiterrorism Awareness Month in August.
iWATCH is a nationwide modern version of Neighborhood Watch developed by the Los Angeles Police Department to encourage and enable members of the community in identifying and reporting suspicious behavior that may be associated with terrorist activities. The purpose is to promote antiterrorism awareness and leverage every member of the Army community to act as a sensor to help identify and prevent potential terrorist acts.
There are two elements of the initiative: Passive and Active. The Passive element of iWATCH is individual situational awareness of your surroundings. The Active element requires individuals to take action and report suspicious behavior or activities to law enforcement for further investigation.
An essential component of iWATCH is reporting suspicious activity. The initiative aspires to ensure everyone knows what to report and how to report it.
Identifying suspicious activity or behaviors is not a difficult science. Your suspicion of a threat could be confirmed with only one incident or it could take a series of incidents. Your suspicions may be based on experience, judgment and common sense. Suspicious activity is about suspicious behaviors and not based solely on individuals. Just because someone looks suspicious does not trigger suspicious activity reporting. It is more about the suspicious activity or behavior that is the key element. Keep this mind: Why does this event seem suspicious to you?
Our local law enforcement depends on information from the public to capture criminals or suspected terrorists. The vast majority of arrests are the direct result of information received from witnesses. People reporting “suspicious activity,” getting descriptions of thieves, robbers and adversaries, and writing down license plate numbers from fleeing criminals are critical to the success of the law enforcement professionals. Without people calling the cops and getting good descriptions of suspicious activities or criminals, arrest rates would be abysmally low. Our residents help law enforcement solve crimes and thwart terrorist attacks every day.
Here are a few suspicious activities to focus on:
• People drawing or measuring important buildings (religious, government and more)
• Strangers asking questions about security procedures
• Briefcase, suitcase, backpack or package left unattended
• Vehicles left in no parking zones or in front of important buildings
• Unfamiliar people in secure areas
• People wearing clothes that are noticeably too big or too hot for the weather (coats or jackets in summertime)
• Chemical smells or fumes that seem out of the ordinary for the specific location
• People asking questions about sensitive information such as building blueprints, security plans or VIP travel schedules that do not have a need to know
• People purchasing supplies or equipment that can be used to make bombs or weapons, or purchasing uniforms without having the proper credentials
Be alert at all times for suspicious activity. Maintain individual situational awareness of your surroundings. Everyone is a vital sensor for reporting suspicious activity. Law enforcement officials cannot be everywhere; and need the eyes and ears of the entire installation and local community to assist in quelling crime and terrorism.
Report all suspicious persons and activities to the Redstone dispatch at 313-6422 or use the Free Army iWATCH mobile app. If you are at work, notify your supervisor and organizational antiterrorism officer once you have called the proper authorities. Note: iWATCH does not replace 911. If a crime is in progress or any incident appears life threatening, call 911 immediately.
Provide as much of the following details to assist law enforcement officials:
• Who? Describe who is involved in the suspicious activity such as: male or female? How Tall? Build? Hair color? Skin color? Age? English speaking or another language? Note: If there is a car, remember the license plate number, vehicle make and model, etc.
• What? Describe what you witnessed.
• Where? Give the location of the suspicious activity (such as street address or name of the facility).
• When? Give the date and time the activity took place.
• Why? Indicate why the activity is suspicious to you or if you have seen this activity before.
Keep in mind that there are three critical rules when observing suspicious activity: don’t confront; do get good descriptions of the individuals, vehicles and activities; and do immediately report the activity to the police. Remember that timely and accurate reporting is the key.
Download the free iWATCH Army mobile app. You can call 217-4390 from your smartphone and the system will talk you through the process or send you a link to download the app. You may also search for the app in your Apple or Android smart phone app store by typing iWatch Army or access from a personal computer at iwatcharmy.getiwatch.com.
The iWatch Army app allows users to send reports in the form of text messages, voice recordings, photos or video. Users also will have the ability to communicate with the responding officer in an anonymous chat. Reports of suspicious activity outside the installation will be forwarded to the appropriate law enforcement agency.