TALLAHASSEE – If there was a generational code that kids have traditionally employed throughout elementary school, it’s not to be a snitch and tattle to the teacher against your own classmates.
But for children and adults alike, the state’s top law enforcement agency is urging quite the opposite these days. If fact, they want all Florida residents to become snitches as often as possible.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement just announced that it would relaunch the four-year-old public awareness campaign known as “If You See Something, Say Something” – in response to the very high profile and brutal terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernadino, Calif.
Originally launched in 2011, the campaign is designed to encourage residents to quickly report anything that they believe could be be suspicious or potentially dangerous behavior.
As FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen noted, “As the holidays approach, we remind our citizens to remain vigilant. It’s important that we are aware of our surroundings and report suspicious behavior to law enforcement.”
The “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign was originally implemented by New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and has since been licensed to the Department of Homeland Security for use in a nationwide campaign.
FDLE noted in a news release that it is “a simple and effective program to engage the public and key frontline employees to identify and report indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime to the proper law enforcement authorities.”
Since 2011, FDLE noted, the Sunshine State campaign never officially ended, but the state agency is using this relaunch to redistributing information to not just the public, but also its law enforcement and media partners, encouraging both to repost this information on social media.
The Paris attacks happened on Nov. 13, when terrorists coordinated a series of violent assaults in that city and the northern suburb of Saint-Denis, where three suicide bombers struck near the Stade de France.
That was followed by suicide bombings and mass shootings at restaurants, cafés, and the Bataclan theatre. The attackers killed 130 people, including 89 at the Bataclan theatre, and caused 368 injuries. Later, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attacks.
That was followed by the massacre in San Bernardino that killed 14 and injured 21, the deadliest strike by Islamic extremists on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001.
In response, FDLE officials are encouraging anyone who sees any suspicious activity to report it to local authorities by calling 1-855-FLA-SAFE (1-855-352-7233), or by going online to FDLE’s website .
“Examples of suspicious activity include things like: people drawing or measuring buildings for no known reason, strangers asking questions about building security procedures or people in secure areas where they are not supposed to be, or leaving behind briefcases, suitcases, backpacks or packages,” FDLE noted in the release.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..