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“If You See Something, Say Something”

Recent terrorist attacks around the world and new threats have left many local governments evaluating their preparedness protocols. Cities large and small are addressing the threats by considering lessons learned.  The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) states that the greatest tool citizens have against terrorism is to be aware and report any suspicious activity.  

To help raise public awareness, in July 2010 DHS launched the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice's Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative (NSI). The NSI also standardized how these observations are documented so that information can be more easily shared among organizations.  Local governments play an important role in promoting awareness of the campaign and informing citizens about what suspicious activity is and where to report it. This webpage on the Fairfax County, Virginia, website is a great example of how to accomplish this.

Below are additional resources that you might find useful:

  1. To help communities prepare for active shooters and complex attacks, the Department of Homeland Security Office of Health Affairs released this fact sheet.
  2. One of the resources from this fact sheet is the First Responder Guide for Improving Survivability in Improvised Explosive Device and/or Active Shooter Incidents.  This guide is based on best practices and lessons learned, and offers recommendations for hemorrhage control, protective equipment (which includes ballistic vests, helmets, and eyewear), and response and incident management.
  3. The FBI developed this quick reference guide to provide local law enforcement with accurate data to better understand how to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from active shooter incidents.
  4. New York City and its Office of Emergency Management developed this guide to help their citizens in emergency preparation.
  5. Governing describes how smaller municipalities should be as vigilant as larger cities.  The article states that even though smaller communities are less likely to sustain a terrorist attack, terrorists may settle into these areas to plan their activities, which is why communication is key in these communities.  
  6. 60 Minutes reported this past Sunday that law enforcement is operating in a new reality since the recent increase in “active shooter” incidents, such as those in Paris and the capital of Mali. Learn more about what police are doing in this report.

Have you updated your emergency response procedures recently? Share your comments below.

Douglas Shontz

Knowledge Network Research and Content Development Associate