Although there is no official threat or terror alert issued by al-Qaeda or the Department of Homeland Security, in the aftermath of the killing of terrorist Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, law enforcement officials are warning the public to be extra vigilant and report suspicious activity.
“The death of Osama bin Laden is an important success not only for the United States, but the entire world. Our efforts to combat terrorism, however, do not fixate on one individual, and we remain completely focused on protecting our nation against violent extremism of all kinds,” said DSH Secretary Janet Napolitano in a statement this morning.
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“We remain at a heightened state of vigilance, but the Department of Homeland Security does not intend to issue an NTAS (National Terrorism Advisory System) alert at this time,” she continued. “I have been clear since announcing NTAS in January that we will only issue alerts when we have specific or credible information to convey to the American public. However, our security posture, which always includes a number of measures both seen and unseen, will continue to respond appropriately to protect the American people from an evolving threat picture both in the coming days and beyond.
I commend the President and offer my gratitude to the men and women who defend and protect our nation at home and abroad, whether they wear a military or law enforcement uniform or serve as one of thousands of unsung heroes in the intelligence and homeland security community. It is true that we are stronger and safer than we were on 9/11 – not only because Osama bin Laden is dead, but because of the unflagging dedication and hard work of so many people throughout the world committed to freedom and security.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has activated the department’s Operations Bureau to work with federal agencies to ensure the security of airports, seaports and transit systems. He told new agencies that all critical facilities in the county had been assessed and that vigilance on the transit systems from both officers and passengers were important. Baca and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck held a press conference this morning to reinforce this information and advise public vigilance.
Just last week, the Sheriff’s Department joined with Homeland Security, LAPD and the Port Police to announce the expansion of the “If You See Something, Say Something” public awareness campaign to help ensure the safety and security of Los Angeles.
“Every citizen plays a role in identifying and reporting suspicious activities and threats,” said Napolitano. “Expanding the ‘If You See Something, Say Something’ campaign to Los Angeles and across the country is an important part of our efforts to partner with the public to keep our country safe and resilient.”
The program was originally implemented by New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and is now licensed to DHS for a nationwide campaign. It’s a simple and effective program to engage the public and key frontline employees to identify and report indicators of terrorism, crime and other threats to the proper transportation and law enforcement authorities.
The program works in concert with the nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative—an administration effort to train state and local law enforcement to recognize behaviors and indicators related to terrorism, crime and other threats; standardize how those observations are documented and analyzed; and expand and enhance the sharing of those reports with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and DHS.
Partnerships with the “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign have recently been launched by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Football League (NFL), as well as in several states including Colorado, Minnesota and New Jersey, more than 9,000 federal buildings nationwide, Walmart, Mall of America, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, Amtrak, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the general aviation industry, and state and local fusion centers across the country. Last month, Secretary Napolitano unveiled the “If You See Something, Say Something™” public awareness video, available here.
In the coming months, DHS will continue to expand the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign nationally to help America’s business, communities and citizens remain vigilant and play an active role in keeping the country safe.