Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Westside

April 29, 2013

IDHS focuses on citizen vigilance as large events loom

April showers bring more than flowers in the month of May. In Indianapolis, the month kicks off a summer of festivals, sporting events, and gatherings that cumulatively bring millions into the metropolitan area.

With that in mind and in light of the recent bombings at the Boston Marathon, public safety officials here are ramping up awareness of their “If You See Something, Say Something” program that urges civilian vigilance.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, a recent survey showed that 56 percent of people had not heard of the long-time campaign, and 57 percent said they’d be willing to meet with the DHS to report something of a suspicious nature.

“Any time there is a larger than average event coming together on a fairground or other location, that makes observation more difficult by police and other public service professionals,” John Erickson, senior public information officer for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, said. “We need the public’s help in those situations. We need those extra eyes.”

Erickson said the program has been around for a number of years and was adopted in New York City. He said recent events in Boston have caused more emphasis to be placed on re-introducing the program in hopes that the public has a watchdog attitude at large events.

Erickson said large scale tragedies often cause public focus to be on suspicious activity, but over time that vigilance wanes. The goal is to keep that mindset more constant.

“It does tend to fade,” he said. “It is very common for people to be vigilant right after something happens and as time goes on, we forget that we need to be vigilant and my hope is that we don’t have another reminder.”

Though reporting potentially dangerous or suspicious activity is second nature to some, Erickson said that’s not the attitude that everyone has.

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