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Make the call

(U.S. Air Force graphic)

(U.S. Air Force graphic)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- It's another typical Thursday morning when you arrive at Schriever Air Force Base for work. The morning has been nothing short of routine, you even managed to beat most of the gate traffic today. You're thinking about all the things on your agenda for the day as you walk toward the portals when something catches your eye.

A coworker you've seen before, but don't really know, is also making their way in. They seem like just another person heading to work, but that little voice in your head is telling you something's not quite right. You can't quite put your finger on it, but the feeling just won't go away. You keep watching to see what it is that's giving you this feeling when it hits you. It's a balmy Colorado morning with temperatures already in the low 70s, but this person is wearing a bulky winter coat, zipped to their chin.

You remember the "If you see something, say something" training from a while back and now feel it's time to make a report. But who should you make the report to? What information do you need to give them?

"You call security forces first because security forces is 24 hours a day," said Special Agent Stacey Polu, Office of Special Investigations. "They get the real time information and if it's happening on the installation, they can call their patrols to go get the information right away."

The basic premise behind the Department of Homeland Security's "If you see something, say something" campaign is to get the public to be more aware of their surroundings and take action if they see someone or something out of place.

"If a person sees something such as abnormal behavior from a known acquaintance, an unattended bag/package or something that just looks out of place, the person needs to contact the authorities as soon as possible," said Staff Sgt. Steven McCoy, 50th Security Forces Squadron. "Do not have the mindset that it is someone else's responsibility or someone else will take care of it."

DHS offers these basic guidelines for what information to give when making a report, "Describe specifically what you observed including: who or what you saw; when you saw it; where it occurred; and why it is suspicious."

"I think situational awareness is something everyone needs to work on," McCoy said. "Humans are creatures of habit and most people fall into a routine. An example would be that most people take the same route to work every day and think nothing of it. But how many times have they gone that same route and saw something that made them say, 'Wow, I never noticed that before.' I think by paying attention to your surroundings some situations could be avoided or prevented."

Both Polu and McCoy said providing as much detail as possible when reporting can give authorities a better idea of the situation, or who or what they should be looking for.

"Most importantly is the timeliness of the report and trying to get all the information you can get," Polu said. "We'll get phone calls and they'll say, 'Yeah, we just saw somebody in a blue car taking photos.' OK, well did they have Colorado license plates? What kind of car, was it a Ford, was it light blue, dark blue? Some people are doing the right thing and calling us, but it's hard to go in there and dig unless we have specifics."

McCoy said some of the behaviors that should trigger a red flag include abnormal behavior from a coworker, a person who is outspoken on government, ideology or the life choices of others and an interest in active shooter cases or mass killings.

People taking photos or notes or who appear to be collecting information about the installation should also trigger a report, Polu added.

Physical activity isn't the only thing members need to be aware of when applying "If you see something, say something." Online activity can also be an indicator an illegal act is about to be committed. While it can be difficult to determine the seriousness of an online threat, it's better to be safe than sorry.

"If an individual were to come across something online that leads them to believe another person is considering committing an act of violence, they should contact the nearest law enforcement," McCoy said. "It is better to make the call and it turn out to be a misunderstanding, then not to say something and people get hurt."

For more information, visit http://www.dhs.gov/see-something-say-something or call OSI at 567-5049.
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