iWatch anti-terror, anti-crime program kicks off in Heidelberg
July 1, 2010
- Program aims to keep community and residents safe
- A partnership between the U.S. military, civilian community and the Directorate of Emergency Services.
- iWatch program is open to all military members, civilians and local nationals.
HEIDELBERG, Germany- When most of us hear the words neighborhood watch, the first images that may come to mind could be that of a nosy neighbor peeking through tangled window blinds with an extra large pair of binoculars strapped to his face, or a crew of residents staked out on their front porch with flashlights, road guard vests and whistles.
These are two images Tim Harmon wants you to forget about right now. Harmon is the United States Army Garrison Baden-WAfA1/4rttemberg Directorate of Emergency Services Physical Security Program manager, and for the past three months, he's been one of the many hands helping to launch the iWatch program. He'll also be the first one to tell you iWatch is not your ordinary neighborhood watch program.
"The traditional community watch programs were only limited to people living in residential neighborhoods," Harmon said. "However, the iWatch program initiative extends itself to schools, military units and to personnel who reside on and off post."
Harmon also pointed out that iWatch is not a "pro-militant neighborhood watch program armed with flashlights, radios or road guard vests, a voluntary membership program or a nosy neighbor program."
"It's very important we educate our community on how to keep it safe in order to identify, deter or better yet stop incidents such as the previous shooting incident in Fort Hood or in Times Square in New York," Harmon said.
The iWatch program is an Army mandated community awareness program designed to inform the community about behaviors and activities that may have a link to terrorism and criminal activity. It also was created to facilitate a partnership between the U.S. military, civilian community and the Directorate of Emergency Services.
Melvin Jones is the director of emergency services for USAG Baden-WAfA1/4rttemberg, and for him, the iWatch program is a means to multiply their resources.
"This program is very important because law enforcement and security assets cannot be everywhere at all times," Jones said. "Additionally, iWatch allows community members to help keep their community safe by letting us know where suspicious activities occur. "That way we can focus our assets and apply mitigation measures as appropriate."
Some examples of suspicious behavior could be intruders in secure areas, cars or trucks left in no-parking zones in front of important buildings, or people asking questions about sensitive information without a right or need to know.
Harmon says currently the iWatch program is only being launched in the Heidelberg community, but there are plans to expand the program to Mannheim and to coordinate program efforts with the Kaiserslautern community where the Air Force's "Eagle Watch" program is being used. There also will be educational briefings available to units and organizations to explain what the program is, how it works and what other types of suspicious activities individuals should look for.
The iWatch program works by allowing an individual to report any unusual or suspicious behavior they may notice by submitting a suspicious activity report on the iWatch Web site at www.bw.eur.army.mil/iwatch or by contacting his local military police station.
The iWatch program is open to all military members, civilians and local nationals.
"Everyone plays a key role in iWatch because they see things that we don't, and they can help make us aware," Jones said. "Even the smallest bit of information may be the missing piece to the puzzle."