At DHS, we believe that homeland security begins with hometown security. Security is a shared responsibility, and each citizen has a role to play in identifying and reporting suspicious activities.
We're all safer when everyone is alert and engaged, and that's what the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) "If You See Something, Say Something" public awareness campaign is all about. If you see something that doesn't look right, report it to local authorities.
On Thursday, September 6, I joined Simon Property Group Executive Vice President of Property Management Tim Earnest to announce a new partnership with the Simon Property Group as a part of the "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign.
This new partnership will take the campaign to shopping malls and retail centers across the United States. By providing signs in hallways and service areas that are used by Simon and tenant employees, DHS will encourage employees to say something when they see something suspicious. This could be an unattended package or suspicious behavior, like a person entering a restricted area that shouldn't be there or leaving an item under a bench or behind a trash can.
Materials for employees will initially be in 20 Simon locations in Indiana and Virginia, and we're working with Simon to expand to other properties in the future.
Originally developed by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, "If You See Something, Say Something" is a simple and effective program to engage the public and key frontline employees to raise awareness of indicators of terrorism, and emphasize the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the proper authorities.
DHS has expanded the program by partnering with cities, states, universities and private businesses, including the transportation, hospitality and retail sectors. In each sector, we have provided materials and collaborated on advertisements to help engage and educate the public as well as those working behind the scenes. And our new partnership with the Simon Property Group will allow us to continue expanding the program across the country.
We have seen the value of public vigilance in thwarting terrorism and crime time and again. Last year, a concerned gun store owner in Killeen, Texas called authorities after becoming suspicious of a customer's purchases and helped to prevent a likely attack at Fort Hood. And a concerned citizen's report helped to foil a planned attack against a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day parade route in Washington State in 2010.
When we each do our part, we keep our nation safe, one hometown at a time.