AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Law enforcement officers and public safety officials launched a new anti-terrorism campaign Tuesday in Augusta.
The program is called “If You See Something, Say Something,” a phrase commonly used in major public spaces such as airports. It urges people to be alert and aware of their surroundings, especially their communities, and to notify law enforcement if something seems suspicious.
“The public and the communities can be an extension of us,” said Maine State Police Lt. Scott Ireland.
The campaign comes from the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security and is launching throughout the country to stress the importance of reporting suspicious activity to local law enforcement. Included in the campaign is a public service announcement video.
“Fifteen years after the 9/11 attack, we should not become complacent,” said retired Senior Homeland Security Executive Chet Lunner. “We all should become involved citizens in this common-sense practice to honor past victims and help prevent future ones.”
Police said even a phone call can be the catalyst to stopping a possible terrorist attack.
“We’d much rather get the call, go check it out, have it turn out to be nothing, and turn around and go to the next call as opposed to not getting the call at all,” said Lt. Ireland, who is also director of the Maine Information and Analysis Center in Augusta.
The MIAC, or “Fusion Center,” is a location where state and federal investigators can evaluate and communicate citizen tips on suspicious activity if the tip is deemed to be credible.
“A terrorist’s first job is to blend in. They’re not going to be walking around wearing a nametag that says, 'I’m a terrorist,'” Lunner said.
Gov. LePage also spoke at the news conference, thanking law enforcement and first responders for protecting the public daily.
The goals for this program is to have the ears and eyes of Maine citizens looking out for each other,” LePage said.
Maine Dept. of Public Safety Commissioner John Morris stressed that the campaign is about behavior, not appearance.
“This has nothing to do with race, ethnicity, gender, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation," he said. "This is about behavior."
Lunner said tips from the public on suspicious behavior have helped the FBI prosecute a number of cases. He also said police and the FBI became aware of Adnan Fazeli, an Iranian refugee who lived in Maine before fighting and dying for ISIS.
“Just making that one call, and that could be the piece to the puzzle that we hope to put in place and complete the puzzle,” Ireland said.
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