While there are no specific or credible threats to the Houston area, the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety & Homeland Security wants to remind residents of their role in preventing terrorism.
The best way Houston area residents can help prevent terrorist attacks from happening is to be vigilant of their surroundings and report suspicious activity to local law enforcement. It’s important to remember that terrorism isn’t defined by what someone believes thinks, or the words they use. Terrorism is generally defined as the use of violence to pursue a political goal. Terrorism can be classified in many different ways, but ultimately, communities should be on-guard for acts which could result in death or injury.
Terrorism is a crime.
Remember it is not a crime to:
- Make harsh or inflammatory comments about the U.S., its government or its people.
- Have a strong set of beliefs that go beyond what is considered respectable discourse. Americans are guaranteed the right of free speech.
Who is a Terrorist?
The term “terrorist” can only apply to someone who has actually committed a crime. Terrorism is a type of blackmail used to threaten or intimidate.
Terrorism might target:
- Government policies
- One or more local communities
- A business or businesses
- One or more racial or ethnic groups
- Members of any specialty group
The goals of terrorism are usually political, social, or religious in nature. Terrorists often truly believe they are pursuing justifiable and righteous goals.
Terrorists may be seeking:
- To influence policy decisions
- Their own homeland or some type of independence
- Downfall of an existing government seen as unresponsive, authoritarian, corrupt or immoral
- Exemption from various laws or rules
What is Considered Suspicious?
- Suspicious Packages – Be alert to bags or packages that are unattended, that are smoking, or have visible suspicious wiring.
- Surveillance – Be aware of people who may be taking photos or making notes of security measures, such as cameras, law enforcement, or emergency exits.
- Unusual Supplies – If you observe someone buying or possessing a lot suspicious items that may be used to create explosives, such as fertilizer, chemicals, modified electronics or wires.
- Unseasonable/Bulky Clothing – If you see someone wearing a large jacket when the weather is not calling for it, or clothing with unexplainable humps or shapes.
- Unauthorized Entrance into Restricted Areas – People loitering around, or entering exits or restricted areas.
- Unauthorized or Empty Vehicles – Vehicles without license plates, or those that are parked illegally, or for a long period of time should be treated as suspicious
How to Report Suspicious Activity
If you feel there is a life threatening emergency in progress, call 9-1-1.
To report activity you think may be suspicious, call 1-855-i-watch-4 (429-8244) or report it online at iwatchhouston.org.
Where can I learn more?
The Houston Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Initiative (RCPI) and Ready Houston Initiative has information for residents and businesses on preventing terrorism online at iwatchhouston.org. This includes a facilitator guide for businesses, and videos on a range of topics including:
- Make the Call – Spotting Suspicious Activity (YouTube Video)
- Run.Hide.Fight (R): Surviving an Active Shooter Event (YouTube Video)
- Spotting Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) (YouTube Video)
Also, make sure your family is prepared to deal with the after effects of a terrorist attack. Download a copy of the City of Houston Disaster Preparedness Guide from houstonoem.org.