iWATCH enhances community awareness

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 13, 2013) -- The safety and security of people on Fort Rucker is one of the installation's top priorities, but responsibility lies with more than just law enforcement, according to antiterrorism officials -- it's shared with everybody.

iWATCH Army is an antiterrorism program that focuses on encouraging Army-wide community awareness and outreach efforts to address important topics related to protecting communities, not just from terrorist acts, but all crime, said Tom Solem, Fort Rucker Training and Doctrine Command antiterrorism officer.

"iWATCH Army is a community program to help your neighborhood stay safe from terrorist activities (and crime)," he said. "People and their fellow Army community members can report behaviors and activities that make them feel uncomfortable or just don't look right," adding that the program is a partnership between the community and local law enforcement.

Solem said people on the installation need to remain vigilant because it's up to everyone to keep Fort Rucker safe.

"Parents need to talk to their children about this as well," he said. "Although school is out, there are other activities that go on throughout the installation and there can be deviance that goes on, so people need to watch out for suspicious behavior everywhere."

There are a number of different reasons to report suspicious activity, but Solem said that keeping the installation safe is first and foremost. It's people's awareness that can help predict and prevent attacks before they happen.

"Our law enforcement is the reactionary force to (reported activities), but they need more eyes and ears out there to help them," he said. "They can't be everywhere at once and there's just not enough of them.

"We're here to protect our country, our neighborhoods," Solem continued. "We're the frontline of defense, and then we call the reinforcements to take care of the issue. We see it, we report it, and we get the experts and the professionals to deal with it. That's how we defend us."

Some things people should look out for include: people drawing or measuring important buildings; strangers asking questions about security forces or security procedures; briefcases, suitcases, backpacks or any packages left behind; cars or trucks left in no-parking zones in front of important buildings; intruders in secure areas; persons wearing clothes that are too big or bulky, or too hot for the weather; and even chemical smells or fumes that don't seem right.

"People need to trust their instincts," said Solem. "We rely on our senses every day of our lives. If a behavior or activity makes you feel uncomfortable, report it."

When people report an incident, they should try to give as many details as possible. Solem provided a checklist that people can use to make sure they get the necessary information: date and time; where it happened; what they witnessed; description of people involved including gender, height, build, ethnicity, hair color and age; and license plate numbers if available.

Solem also advises people not to get directly involved unless there is an immediate threat or if it's the only action available, and for them to allow the proper authorities to handle the situation.

He also advises that people share information regarding iWATCH Army to everyone they know.

"Everyone needs to get this kind of information out to their neighbors," said Solem. "This is not the kind of information that should be kept to themselves, but shared with the world. We strongly encourage people to share this information with each other so that they know what to do if they see something out of the ordinary."

Solem also stressed that 911 should only be called for emergency situations, but people can call the non-emergency line at 255-2222 to report any suspicious activities. To report anonymously, call 255-3333.

Page last updated Thu June 13th, 2013 at 00:00