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Terrorism Awareness and You

Terrorism awareness by the public aids law enforcement by providing information to police that can help prevent terrorist incidents.
This information is intended to provide you with some common sense measures you can take to protect your community from people who would use terrorism against you.
It's time to choose between being a spectator or a participant in the health, safety and security in the Region of St. Paul. Why?
  • RCMP, security, and the military can't be everywhere.
  • Terrorism personally affects every individual.
  • Heightened awareness communicates confidence that we are not easy targets.
  • It works!

Terrorist Vulnerabilities

Don't think that terrorists have it easy!
  • They must live among us without looking suspicious while planning and preparing for their attack.
  • They often need training or equipment that will arouse suspicion.
  • They need to surreptitiously conduct surveillance on possible targets and gather information.
All these things leave terrorists vulnerable to detection, if we are alert and, if we report it! How do we recognize the difference between normal and abnormal behavior?

Staying Alert

By staying alert in our travels and daily routines and getting to know:
  • Who our neighbors are
  • What cars are normally in our neighborhood
  • Who regularly makes deliveries at work
  • Who the regular maintenance and cleaning people are at work
  • What is appropriate in our work area so we can identify what isn't
Staying alert is NOT paranoia. Staying alert is simply being aware of one's surroundings. Some indications of possible trouble may include:
  •  A local activity that could indicate problems in your community.
  •  Previous activity or crimes.
  • Tension between groups.
  • Controversial issues being debated.
  • Suspicious thefts.
Pay attention to:
  • Issues that have been in the media.
  • Local/national/international news that may increase the risk for certain groups or facilities.
  • Government-released "threat notices” indicating a threat against a type of facility.

Recognizing Suspicious Activity

Identifying suspicious activity is not a hard science. You have to rely on your judgment. Your suspicion of a threat could be confirmed with one incident. It could take a series of incidents. In the long run, it comes down to:
  • Experience
  • Judgment
  • Commonsense
Let's review some possible suspicious activity. These examples may not always justify reporting. They may not always lead to criminal or terrorist activity.

Recognizing Suspicious Activity

Unusual requests for information can be a warning sign of terrorist activity:
  • A telephone request at work asking about the security system.
  • Questions about the habits of your Council(s).
  • A mail survey asking for comments on the response time and habits of emergency personnel.
Although possibly legitimate, these are also techniques used by terrorists to gather information while planning an attack. Do NOT give out sensitive information unless you know the party you're talking to and they have a need for that information.

Unusual Activity

Unusual activity does not necessarily mean that terrorist activity is happening, but it doesn't hurt to be aware of:
  • People acting furtively and suspiciously
  • People avoiding eye contact
  • People departing quickly when seen or approached
  • People in places they don't belong
  • A strong odor coming from a building or vehicle
  • An overloaded vehicle
  • Fluid leaking from a vehicle, other than the engine or gas tank
  • Over dressed for the weather

Numerous Visitors

Terrorists, when not acting alone, need to meet with their conspirators. Pay attention to visitors:
  • Arriving and leaving at unusual hours
  • Trying not to be noticed
  • Acting in a suspicious manner
  • Parking an unusual distance from the meeting
  • An unusual number of unrelated people living together

Large/Unusual/High Risk Deliveries

Deliveries are a common method for terrorists to carry out attacks. You should be aware of:
  • A vehicle with hazardous material parked or driving in an inappropriate area
  • Unusual deliveries of chemicals or fertilizer
  • Unattended bags or boxes in a public access place
  • Fire extinguishers that may have been moved or tampered with
  • Unusual or unexpected mail

Unusual Purchases or Thefts

Terrorists need supplies to carry out their attacks and accomplish their goals. Pay attention to purchases, rentals or thefts of:
  • Police, security, public utility, mail carrier, or airline uniforms and equipment
  • Explosives
  • Weapons
  • Ammunition
  • Propane bottles
  • Toxic chemicals
  • Vehicles able to contain or haul hazardous materials

Providing an Accurate Report

In order to be as helpful as possible with terrorist investigations, it is important to give a thorough report when notifying law enforcement.

Let's go over guidelines, suggestions, and the type of detail you will need to supply to an officer responding to your call of suspicious activity.

Keep in mind, the responding officer may only have the information you gave at the time of your call.

There are two key elements in giving a good report:
  • Accuracy
  • Timeliness
Accuracy means reporting what you saw, and nothing more.

Do NOT add juicy "might have happened" to make the situation sound more important. However, it is appropriate to include the reason the activity seemed suspicious, even if it's simply, "It wasn't normal."•

Timeliness means that after a certain period of time, the suspicious situation will change, people will leave, or possibly alter their appearance.

It's very important to report anything suspicious immediately after you observed it happening.

What to Report

It is important for the responding officer to quickly spot the suspicious person or activity. You can help by providing details and creating a "word picture." Changeable details such as activity are important, but may not be the same once the officer arrives. Permanent details are very important, because they are difficult to change quickly.

When reporting a person, include:
  • Hair color
  • Facial hair
  • Race
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Size
  • Scars
  • Tattoos
  • Disabilities
When reporting a vehicle, include:
  • Make
  • Model
  • Color
  • Body damage
  • Bumper stickers
  • Accessories
  • License plate number
Practice developing descriptions of vehicles you see on your commute or people you encounter in your everyday activities. The more you practice, the better your observation skills will become and the better you will do when nervous or excited.

Let's review the main points to remember when reporting suspicious activity:
  • Never endanger yourself!
  • Never confront suspicious activity!
  • Tell just what you saw!
  • Tell why it is suspicious!
Write it ALL down after you report it! But who should you call to make a report? First evaluate whether it is an emergency or non-emergency situation.

Emergency: Call your local emergency number, usually 911.

If you think a life is in danger or a serious crime is about to be committed, call 911.

Non-Emergency: Call the RCMP non-emergency number listed in the phone book.

If it is not an emergency, but you think that the person or situation should be investigated, do NOT tie up the 911 emergency number.

Terrorism is not leaving anytime soon. Be prepared, know what to look for, and speak out against terrorism. You can make a difference.