AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is calling on Texans to remain vigilant regarding potential crime and terrorist activity as the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks approaches. The public should always be aware of their surroundings and are urged to report suspicious behaviors through the state’s iWATCH program (www.iwatchtx.org) or their local authorities. The iWATCH program was created as a partnership between communities and law enforcement, and utilizes citizen-sourced tips related to criminal activity.
“This year will be the 15th time that Americans pause on September 11th to honor the family members, friends and colleagues who were taken from this world much too soon on that fateful day, but who live on in our hearts and memories,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “As we prepare to memorialize all who were lost, we must also be mindful that we live in a world where we face an ever-present threat of terrorism and crime. We want to remind Texans that they can serve as one of law enforcement’s greatest resources by simply reporting illegal or suspicious behavior to iWATCH or their local authorities – by speaking up, you could save a life.”
In addition to recent attacks around the world, terrible crimes and senseless tragedies have also occurred closer to home in recent years, including the ambush on Dallas peace officers this July, which left five officers killed, seven injured and two civilians wounded; the tragic shootings at Fort Hood; and a 2015 shooting incident outside of a conference center in Garland, Texas. Concerned citizens who observe suspicious activity 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, which serves as the central clearinghouse for the collection, management, analysis and dissemination of law enforcement and homeland security intelligence in Texas. The DPS intelligence strategy is essential to proactive, preventive and effective law enforcement operations to combat crime and terrorism.