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When Something Doesn’t “Look Right”

You can catch a lot on camera, even if you aren't looking for it.

You can catch a lot on camera, even if you aren't looking for it.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, more attempted terrorist attacks against the United States have occurred in the past nine months than in any previous one-year period.

In our first two posts about terrorism-related issues, we covered the basics about dealing with the risks of terrorism and setting up surveillance networks. Our post today explores how individual tenants, building management and staff can work together to identify suspicious activity.

As we often stress in our posts, safety begins with the individual. It is, ultimately, a matter of personal responsibility. The Allied Universal, Inc. Training System emphasizes that everyone plays key roles in not only their own safety but also in ensuring the safety of those around them.

With the recent attempted bombing in Times Square, it was a T-shirt vendor who first identified and reported someone quickly walking away from a suspicious vehicle. According to the Department of Homeland Security, with more potential terrorists being carried out by Western operatives who are either U.S. citizens or here on visas, it is difficult for law enforcement to identify terrorist planning or “chatter.” Law enforcement officials are not omnipotent They need community involvement to help recognize red flags and suspicious behavior patterns.

Here are some examples of efforts that major metropolitan areas are using to engage the community in terrorism prevention:

  • New York City’s Operation Nexus is a nationwide network of more than 25,000 businesses that agree to share information about suspicious activity. Individuals at participating businesses agree to report the purchasing of materials or use of training that might indicate terrorist activity.
  • The Los Angeles Police Department’s iWatchLA is a community awareness program that encourages residents to identify behaviors that might indicate terrorist plotting:
    • Worrisome chemical smells or fumes located around important structures
    • Individuals asking for sensitive information such as VIP travel plans or building blueprints
    • Attempts to purchase potentially explosive material components, absent of proper certification or licensure

What can you do as a building owner or manager?

  • Utilize the Allied Universal online training including “resources” and “links,” which offer a wealth of information about terrorism and dozens of other topics.
  • Encourage your tenants to learn the basics of identifying suspicious behavior (using community watch and DHS resources). Make sure they don’t hesitate when something doesn’t “look right.”
  • Establish protocols for tracking and reporting tenant or visitor alerts. Any incident should be recorded and promptly shared with law enforcement. Sharing information is crucial to preventing future attacks.
  • Consider the benefits of Universal Services of America, an Allied Universal, Inc. strategic partner, who helps some of our clients with services including on-site and remote security systems as well as guards.

Visit us next week for the final post in our series about terrorism prevention. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. Allied Universal, Inc. is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built and operated. Visit for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

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