The Los Angeles Police Department is rolling out the community involvement phase of its counter-terrorism efforts. Named iWatch, it offers a crash course in the types of activity the department deems suspicious and allows people to report questionable incidents to police. Yesterday, reports the Los Angeles Times, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Police Chief Charlie Beck, and others announced the expansion of the campaign into the airport with fliers and posters alerting travelers.
iWatch stems from an earlier revamping of the way police officers report suspicious activity. The department was one of the first to formalize a list of red-flag activities, such as bulk purchases of fertilizer that could be used in explosives and vehicles left unattended in unloading zones at high-profile buildings. Officers also fill out forms that describe any kind of potential terrorist-related activity, whether or not a crime was committed. Counter-terrorism analysts in the department put the information into a database and search for patterns and trends. The police department has taken the message public through a sleek, Hollywood-style public service announcemand and a short film in which police are able to disrupt a terrorist cell after a neighbor and others report the group’s odd behavior. Of the handful of reports that have been filed through the iWatch system’s website, a few have been “substantial,” said police antiterror chief Michael Downing.