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Suspicious Activity Reporting

Part 2: Resource Guide

According to a study by the Institute for Homeland Security, tips from the public and routine police work were responsible for stopping more than 80% of the terrorist plots thwarted between 1999 and 2009. The evidence is clear: citizen involvement is essential to the safety of our nation.

Below is a reference list of organizations and programs available to help communities of all types leverage citizen resources to combat terrorism.

8 of 10 terrorist plots foiled between 1999 and 2009 were stopped because of tips from concerned citizens and routine police work.

Findings from a study by Rand Corporation and RTI International, with funding from the Institute for Homeland Security Solutions

IACP'S VOLUNTEERS IN POLICE SERVICE PROGRAM (VIPS) – The VIPS Program provides support and resources for citizens wishing to volunteer with a community law enforcement agency. The program's website offers all the tools and building blocks necessary to create a police volunteer program, including training and educational programs, an extensive publications library, webinars, and other no-cost resources. (www.policevolunteers.org)

NATIONAL CRIME PREVENTION COUNCIL (NCPC) – NCPC offers a wide variety of crime prevention tools and resources communities can use to create safer neighborhoods, schools and workplaces. In partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice, NCPC leads the Celebrate Safe Communities program to create public awareness and ongoing support for community involvement in crime prevention. (www.ncpc.org)

USAonWatch.org – USAonWatch.org is a resource center for Neighborhood Watch and Business Watch information and training. These National Sheriff's Association (NSA) programs bring community members together to fight crime.  The website includes tools to start a Neighborhood Watch or Business Watch, an extensive library of publications, training resources, links to federal and local law enforcement agencies, and more. (www.nnw.org)

The NSI has standardized a protocol for federal, state, territorial, tribal and local law enforcement to share information that could help prevent terrorism and other crimes while protecting individual privacy, civil rights and civil liberties. Tools are available through the NSI to educate community leaders on suspicious activity reporting and investigation and the role of fusion centers.  (http://nsi.ncirc.gov) Guidance for Building Communities of Trust (BCOT) is a publication available through NSI to help community stakeholders develop and maintain relationships that will support information sharing and the reporting of suspicious activities.

PUBLIC SAFETY ANSWERING POINTS (PSAP) – PSAP call centers are central locations where emergency and non-emergency calls are routed from multiple agencies, including law enforcement, fire, and ambulance services. Because PSAPs are managed locally rather than nationally, citizens and PSAP operators/dispatchers need location-specific training on how reports of suspicious activity are handled. The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials is the leading provider of training opportunities for dispatchers at PSAPs, and e911 Institute promotes public education on emergency communication issues and supports enhancements of our nation's emergency communication system. (www.apco911.org, www.e911institute.org)

America's Waterways Watch (AWW) and Citizen's Action Network (CAN) – AWW is a national campaign to build support for reporting of suspicious activity around waterways. Boat decals, posters, brochures and an educational video are among the tools available through AWW to promote awareness and understanding of what behaviors to be aware of and how to submit reports. AWW hosts a dedicated phone line for reporting of suspicious activity and non-emergency information. The Citizen's Action Network (CAN) is another program targeted to coastal communities. Coastal citizens and residents assist the U.S. Coast Guard by looking out for missing vessels, providing on-site weather observations, and serving as an all-hazards watch group. Both AWW and CAN are sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard. (www.aww.aww-sp.com, www.uscg.mil/d13/can, www.pacnwest.org)

Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Cultural Competency and Engagement Training (CRCL) – The Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) leads efforts to educate people about the different cultures within their communities. CRCL has developed training resources on topics such as immigrant groups, religious traditions, persons with disabilities, effective policing without the use of ethnic or racial profiling, and best practices in community outreach. (www.it.ojp.gov/PrivacyLiberty)

First Observer™ – First Observer™ is DHS/TSA Highway and Motor Carrier (HMC) Division's national anti-terrorism and security awareness program. The program is free of charge and includes onsite (your location) classroom, online and webinar training in end user and train the trainer formats. Professionals from all highway and highway infrastructure fields, including trucking, motor coach, school bus, parking, cargo, HAZMAT, highway workers, university, hospital, and entertainment industries can participate in the end user or train the trainer sessions and become certified First Observers. Once trained, users have access to a 24/7/365 Call Center and Information Sharing and Analysis Call Center (ISAC). The ISAC is directly connected to all Fusion Centers and other federal and state intelligence and law enforcement organizations and callers/reporters will receive feedback regarding their report. (www.firstobserver.com)

Fusion Liaison Officer (FLO) Programs – FLO Programs create a channel for communication between fusion centers and public and private sector agencies. The role of the FLO is to facilitate the exchange of information between the fusion center and the organization to which he or she is assigned. The FLO network provides an effective means to disseminate information from the national level and fusion centers.

"If You See Something, Say Something™" Campaign – Through the "If You See Something, Say Something™" campaign, local organizations can obtain posters, videos, and audio clips to support their efforts to promote suspicious activity awareness and reporting. Another valuable tool is the "If You See Something, Say Something™" video available on the DHS website. The video identifies the types of suspicious activities and explains the process by which reports are processed. (www.dhs.gov/if-you-see-something-say-something-campaign)

National Terrorism Advisory System – The National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) communicates information about terrorist threats to the public, government agencies, first responders, airports and other transportation hubs, and the private sector. Alerts may indicate particular items, situations, activities, or developing trends of which to remain aware. Depending on the nature of the threat, alerts may be sent to law enforcement, distributed to affected areas of the private sector, or issued more broadly to the public through both official and social media channels. Community members can sign up to receive NTAS alerts through the DHS webpage (www.dhs.gov/alerts), Facebook (www.facebook.com/NTASAlerts), or Twitter @NTASAlerts (www.twitter.com/NTASAlerts).

InfraGard – InfraGard is a community-based partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the private sector. Through local chapter meetings, representatives from businesses, academic institutions, state and local law enforcement and other stakeholders share information and intelligence that may serve to prevent terrorist action. InfraGard members have access to a secure communication and intelligence network and benefit from training and education programs, newsletters and other resources. Each Infragard chapter is linked geographically to an FBI Field Office territory, and an FBI Special Agent Coordinator is assigned to support the chapter with education and up-to-date information on threat advisories and alerts. (www.infragard.net)

Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Resource Library – The COPS website offers access to an extensive array of resources, including a library, media center and training materials pertinent to community oriented policing strategies for local crime and terrorism. Publications that help create community support for SARs include Community Partnerships CD-ROM, and The Collaboration Toolkit for Community Organizations: Effective Strategies to Partner with Law Enforcement. (www.cops.usdoj.gov)

Communities Against Terrorism – The Communities Against Terrorism program provides industry-specific information and training for businesses about potential indicators of pre-operative planning for a terrorist attack. The program is funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance through the State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training Program (SLATT) program. SLATT is a law enforcement resource for specialized training to combat terrorism and extremist activity. (www.slatt.org/CAT)

The tools and resources are at our fingertips to build public support for SARs. Now the challenge is to develop and implement strategies to utilize these tools to maximum advantage in uniting community members and law enforcement agencies against terrorism.

A Resource Guide to Improve Your Community's Awareness and Reporting of Suspicious Activity, IACP/FEMA
The Washington Post, November 9, 2010

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