State iWATCH program accepts tips via website, mobile app
AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is calling on Texans to remain vigilant regarding potential crime and terrorist activity in their communities, and to report suspicious behaviors to the department’s iWATCH website. The iWATCH program was created as a partnership between communities and law enforcement, and utilizes citizen-sourced tips related to criminal activity.
“As details about the atrocious attack in Orlando continue to unfold, our thoughts and prayers remain with the victims, their families and all of Florida,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “Amid today’s ever-present threat of terrorism and crime, we are reminded that members of the public can be law enforcement’s greatest resource. When law enforcement and communities work together to combat crime, we are inherently more successful. DPS urges individuals to always report illegal or suspicious behavior they see to iWATCH or their local authorities – by speaking up, you could save a life.”
In addition to the shootings in Orlando, and other attacks around the world, senseless attacks have also occurred closer to home in recent years, including tragic shootings at Fort Hood, and a 2015 shooting incident in Garland, Texas. Concerned citizens can visit the iWATCH website to fill out a report, which includes contact information and specifics about a particular incident. A report usually takes fewer than five minutes to complete, and once submitted, each report is reviewed by law enforcement analysts. The website also lists a phone number for possible anonymous reports.
Here are some examples of behaviors and activities to report:
- Strangers asking questions about building security features and procedures.
- Briefcase, suitcase, backpack or package is left behind.
- Cars or trucks are left in no-parking zones at important buildings.
- Chemical smells or fumes that are unusual for the location.
- People requesting sensitive information, such as blueprints, security plans or VIP travel schedules, without a need to know.
- Purchasing supplies that could be used to make bombs or weapons, or purchasing uniforms without having the proper credentials.
- Taking photographs or videos of security features, such as cameras or checkpoints.
DPS urges residents who see something unusual to simply speak up. Preparations for terrorist attacks may often be seen, but rarely reported. When in doubt, report the suspicious activity through iWATCH. For more information on the iWATCH program or to submit a report, visit iWATCH. To make an anonymous report, individuals can contact DPS at 1-866-786-5972. (iWATCH is not designed to report emergencies. If a situation requires an emergency response, call 911.)
The iWATCH website is part of the DPS Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division (ICT), which serves as the central clearinghouse for the collection, management, analysis and dissemination of law enforcement and homeland security intelligence in Texas. This DPS intelligence strategy is essential to proactive, preventive and effective law enforcement operations to combat crime and terrorism.
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