In light of recent events, the Texas Department of Public Safety is reminding Texans to stay vigilant regarding potential crime and terrorist activity in their communities and to report suspicious behaviors to the department’s iWATCH website at iwatchtx.org.
iWATCH was created as a partnership between communities and law enforcement and uses 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 in a press release. “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, attacks have also happened closer to home in the recent past, including shootings at Fort Hood and a 2015 shooting in Garland.
Concerned citizens can visit the iWATCH website to fill out a report, which includes contact information and specifics about a particular incident. According to DPS, a report typically takes less than five minutes to complete and once submitted, each report is reviewed by law enforcement. The website also lists a phone number for possible anonymous reports.
Here are some examples from DPS 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; and
- Taking photographs or videos of security features, such as cameras or checkpoints.
DPS urges residents who see something unusual to speak up. Preparations for terrorist attacks may often be seen, but rarely reported, DPS said.
For more information on the iWATCH program or to submit a report, go to iwatchtx.org. To make an anonymous report, individuals can contact DPS at 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 available for iPhone users on the Apple App Store: itunes.apple.com/us/app/texas-dps/id902092368?mt=8; and for Android users on Google Play: 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.