Public Awareness Can Help in the War on Terrorism
We see news headlines every day about new terrorist attacks and threats throughout the world. We hear about how the public can help by becoming aware of surroundings and reporting any suspicious behavior or items of suspicion to authorities. What exactly does this mean, and what are we supposed to look for?
In a world where the costs of owning your own website are going way down, ordinary people can now help spot and track suspicious behavior.
Possible Indications of Threats
One thing the public is told to watch out for is suspicious packages, backpacks or suitcases left in public places. Another thing to watch for is the behavior of people around you. You may see someone taking a lot of pictures of something that doesn’t seem significant, like a public building. You might observe them making notes, looking at or creating maps. Other things you’re advised to look for include:
. Strong odors coming from places like buildings or vehicles, unusual chemical or burning odors
. People wearing a lot of clothing on a hot day, being overdressed
. People who are acting nervous or in ways that are strange enough to arouse suspicion
4. Someone who avoids eye contact in addition to acting nervously, doing things like pacing
. In a store, if you see someone making unusual purchases. This can include trying to buy uniforms, weapons, propane bottles, large amounts of fertilizer, ammunition or chemicals
. In an apartment building, watch for unusual visitors, suspicious people who come and go at odd hours or who seem to be acting like they don’t want to be seen.
. Vehicles large enough to hold explosives or hazardous materials, especially if the vehicle is parked and left unattended in an unusual place.
. Someone looking at a building with binoculars
. When you live in an apartment building, be aware of those around you. Get to know neighbors and regular delivery people, like your mail delivery person. Be suspicious if someone new is hanging around, especially if they are there consistently for a period of time.
Certain Types of Employees Can Help by Being Aware
Employees who can be especially helpful in identifying suspicious people or behavior include waiters or waitresses, airport personnel, people who work in retail places like pharmacies, hobby shops or hardware clerks. What can these people look for? Restaurant workers can watch for people sitting in a booth or at a table for long periods of time that seem to be more interested in what’s going on outdoors than in eating or having a conversation with a person they’re with.
Workers in airports can watch for suspicious behaviors like pacing, nervousness or leaving an item unattended and quickly walking away. Retail pharmacy employees can watch for unusual purchases like isopropanol, or thefts of things like fentanyl, or even unusual antibiotic requests. Hardware store workers can watch for purchases of unusual things like large amounts of fertilizer containing ammonia nitrate, pesticides, gas canisters or even pipes with threads and endcaps.
Even retail employees of rental vehicle businesses can make awareness a part of their everyday routine by watching for people who want to rent vans or utility vehicles, and who are not very forthcoming with reasons for wanting to rent these vehicles. Employees of storage rental companies can watch for strange movement in and out of storage units, especially if it involves large drum type containers.
How Can Private Companies Help?
Companies can help by keeping good track of uniforms that are issued to employees, ID cards, and items like vehicle stickers. If items are suddenly being stolen, or if employees are threatened or harmed by someone trying to acquire uniforms and identification, the company should act quickly to step up safety precautions. This is especially true in protected buildings.
There should be an awareness of employees who earn high salaries, with steps to protect them on their way in and out of places like parking garages to prevent possible kidnapping attempts. People can be kidnapped and held hostage for more reasons than money. Their families could be coerced into delivering or planting an explosive device.
The See Something Say Something Campaign
You may have heard of a campaign by the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with law enforcement officials called “See Something Say Something.” This was put into place as a way for ordinary citizens to report unusual people or behavior that happens as they go about their daily activities.
The things you should report to law enforcement include who or what you saw, where it happened, the time and date you saw something and the reason you think the person or their behavior was suspicious. You know if something doesn’t look right, especially when you are in an area or doing activities on a regular basis. Chances are that you could identify suspicious people or behavior almost as well as a law enforcement person could.
It’s important for people to feel that they can go about their daily business, only with a heightened sense of awareness of their surroundings, suspicious objects and the people who are present. It won’t help anyone to feel helpless. No one wants to feel like we have to rely entirely on law enforcement either. Just by reporting suspicious people or behavior, you could end up preventing terrorist activity. This can help make every citizen feel more empowered in the war on terror.