Travelers at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) will have a new tool in reporting suspicious activities of fellow passengers under a recently launched public awareness program.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck, Airport Police Chief George Centeno and community and religious leaders at LAX June 3rd to announce the start of iWATCH, a public awareness program created to educate the public about behaviors and activities that may have a connection to terrorism.
The iWATCH, referred to as a 21st century version of Neighborhood Watch, is designed to enable the public to help guard against terrorist threats by learning how to identify and report suspicious behaviors and activities that may be linked to terrorism, officials said.
The new program aims to raise awareness about what constitutes suspicious behaviors and activities, but not target individuals, officials noted.
“Our city is faced with a new kind of threat in the 21st century that requires us to be vigilant of our communities,” Villaraigosa said. “iWATCH not only provides an avenue to report suspicious activity, but more importantly it involves and educates the public about suspicious activities and behaviors, not personal characteristics, that may be associated to terrorism.”
The initiative was developed to complement the Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) system, a reporting program designed by the LAPD for line-level officers, in an effort to increase terrorism prevention resources by partnering the public with law enforcement officials.
“Individuals have varying thresholds at which they feel compelled to notify authorities when the activity is not overtly terrorist related,” said Beck. “The iWATCH program is a giant leap toward overcoming this problem and literally provides millions of new eyes and ears in the terrorism prevention effort.
“An alert community can act as a deterrent to terrorism, and an educated and trained public can feel more in control of their lives if they partner with law enforcement in the fight against terrorism.”
The campaign urges members of the public to report suspicious activity or behavior they witness at LAX. LAPD detectives will then analyze all reports submitted.
Among the suspicious behaviors and activities that the public is encouraged to be on the lookout for are people drawing or measuring important buildings; people asking questions about security or building security
procedures; a briefcase, suitcase, backpack, or package left behind; and vehicles that are left in No Parking zones in front of important buildings.
The iWATCH LAX program features posters and pamphlets that publicize an airport emergency police contact number, along with the 877-A-THREAT
(877-284-7328) and iWATCHLA.org/ contact information.
The announcement of the new program included the launch of the iWATCH campaign in multiple languages, a new feature of the LAPD’s Web site.