Following this weekend’s mass shooting in Orlando, our law enforcement partners have noted there are no credible threats to the region. However, we also want to continue to encourage area residents to report suspicious activity to local law enforcement. We can all help keep our communities safe by paying attention to our surroundings.
In addition, we believe it is important to share information on how people should prepare for active shooter events. While the subject is an unpleasant one, I encourage people to learn from the many public safety resources available about active shooter situations as part of their personal preparedness for emergencies.
Reporting Suspicious Activity – “See Something, Say Something” Tips
Suspicious activity is any observed behavior that could indicate terrorism or terrorism-related crime. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says suspicious activity includes, but is not limited to:
- Unusual items or situations: A vehicle is parked in an odd location, a package/luggage is unattended, a window/door is open that is usually closed, or other out-of-the-ordinary situations occur.
- Eliciting information: A person questions individuals at a level beyond curiosity about a building’s purpose, operations, security procedures and/or personnel, shift changes, etc.
- Observation/surveillance: Someone pays unusual attention to facilities or buildings beyond a casual or professional interest. This includes extended loitering without explanation (particularly in concealed locations); unusual, repeated, and/or prolonged observation of a building (e.g., with binoculars or video camera); taking notes or measurements; counting paces; sketching floor plans, etc.
If you see something suspicious, immediately call 911. If you remember something you saw earlier – whether it happened a few hours or days ago – call your local law enforcement agency’s non-emergency phone number. When reporting a suspicious activity, try to include:
- Who or what you saw (e.g., height, weight, complexion, hair color, weapons, license plate and make of vehicle, etc.)
- When you saw it
- Where it occurred
- Why it was suspicious
Information reported to law enforcement is shared with partners throughout the region. For more information on See Something, Say Something and reporting suspicious activity, please visit www.dhs.gov/see-something-say-something
Active Shooter Resources
Local law enforcement agencies have promoted the DHS pamphlet on Active Shooter preparedness. DHS recommends that when an active shooter is in the vicinity, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with the situation. DHS highlights three options—run, hide, and fight.
- RUN. Have an escape route and plan in mind Leave your belongings behind Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow Help others escape, if possible Do not attempt to move the wounded Prevent others from entering an area where the active shooter may be Keep your hands visible Call 911 when you are safe
- HIDE. Hide in an area out of the shooter’s view Lock door or block entry to your hiding place Silence your cell phone (including vibrate mode) and remain quiet
- FIGHT. Fight as a last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger Attempt to incapacitate the shooter Act with as much physical aggression as possible Improvise weapons or throw items at the active shooter Commit to your actions . . . your life depends on it.
Run Hide Fight: Surviving an Active Shooter Event is a short video produced by the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security that has been shared by several local law enforcement agencies.
Local, state, and federal public safety agencies continue to work together and coordinate prevention and protection initiatives. In addition, government, business, and nonprofit leaders continue to promote vigilance and preparedness. In December, COG, the Greater Washington Board of Trade (BOT), and the American Red Cross of the National Capital Region held a briefing following terrorist attacks in San Bernadino and Paris.