AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is reminding Texans to remain vigilant with respect to potential crime and terrorist activity in their communities, and to report suspicious behaviors to the department’s iWATCH website at www.iwatchtx.org. The iWATCH program was created as a partnership between communities and law enforcement, and utilizes citizen-sourced tips related to criminal activity.
“In the wake of today’s cowardly attacks in Brussels, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and everyone in Belgium,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “We are also reminding Texans of the crucial role they play in helping law enforcement protect the public from groups and lone-wolf actors intent on harming others. Fighting crime in today’s threat environment can be greatly enhanced through the combined efforts of the public and law enforcement, and we urge individuals to report any illegal or suspicious activity they witness to iWATCH or their local authorities.”
In addition to the acts of terrorism in Brussels, Belgium, 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 www.iwatchtx.org. 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.)
Reports to iWATCH can also be made through the DPS Mobile App. The app is currently available for iPhone users on the Apple App Store: (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/texas-dps/id902092368?mt=8) and for Android users on Google Play: (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.microassist.texasdps&hl=en).
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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