The Department of Homeland Security has a public relations campaign aimed at engaging the public in protecting our homeland through awareness–building, partnerships, and other outreach.
You may have seen signs or posters in New York City, where the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) has partnered with DHS on this initiative. The premise of this program is that informed and alert citizens play a critical role in keeping their communities safe. In other words, ordinary people (i.e., people that are not trained in law enforcement, surveillance, or security) can aid law enforcement and security efforts by alerting the authorities when a person is acting erratic or when an object is unusual for the location. By knowing what is “normal” for your everyday environment – your home, commute, work, gym, grocery store – you will be better prepared to notice (AND REPORT) when something is out of place, whether that is a suspicious person, a suspicious object, or a suspicious vehicle.
This type of campaign can be an important part of keeping your workplace safe. Workplaces should have a clear chain of command for reporting suspicious persons, activities, vehicles, or objects. Training your employees how to notice suspicious activity – like a person asking to be let in to a secure area without the proper credentials or a person who seems to be conducting surveillance on the building’s entrances – is the first step in awareness. Training your employees what to report is also important. When reporting suspicious persons, activities, or objects, people should note who or what they saw, where they saw it, when they saw it, and why it is suspicious. It’s also important that your employees know who to report to; this doesn’t have to be an elaborate chain of command – employees simply need to know which person to report to, and managers need to know where to pass the information to, whether it is local law enforcement, company executives, etc.
The Department of Homeland Security has resources for Hometown Security, where communities and businesses can access free tools and resources to help keep local communities and the public safe and secure. The Hometown Security division encourages businesses to proactively play a role in keeping their communities safe by employing the steps of Connect, Plan, Train, and Report. In terms of reporting, the Hometown Security division points businesses to the DHS “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign.
Here at Invictus Consulting, we encourage businesses, schools, and organizations to train their people on detecting and reporting suspicious activity and persons. Start by browsing around the DHS and Hometown Security web pages; then work with your executives, managers, or board to create a plan that works for your company, school, or organization; then train your people so that they know what to do if they encounter suspicious persons or activities.