In February 2012, the Federal Emergency Management Agency released a report
which offers recommendations and information to local police departments, outreach campaigns, and citizens on improving suspicious activity reporting. According to FEMA, the report was released in order to "help the public better understand their role in reporting suspicious activity" and "help law enforcement agencies and community partners to understand, navigate, and use the many resources available to help build and sustain local efforts."
In this document, FEMA cites the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative's definition of suspicious activity reporting: "observed behavior reasonably indicative or pre-operational planning related to terrorism or other criminal activity." They go on to provide a list of factors that, according to research by the IACP, most individuals rely on when determining if an activity is suspicious: concern about the potential for harm to the community, belief that the information may be useful to law enforcement, personal observation of activities, personal instinct, and the agreement of others nearby that something isn't right.
The document claims that asking questions about a building's operations could be an example of "suspicious activity" and that some "suspicious objects" could include bags, suitcases, packages, cars, and other objects that are left unattended or seem out of place. Other examples of suspicious activity that various agencies, specifically the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, have provided can be found in the numerous roll call releases and suspicious activity reporting documents that have been released. Photography
, observation and surveillance
, and recruiting
are just a few examples of these activities that have been deemed suspicious. Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security even released their top 5 priorities
for suspicious activity reporting in the winter 2013 season.
One of the major issues FEMA addresses in this document is the involvement of the public in reporting suspicious activity, suggesting that residents of a community and employees of local businesses are the individuals most likely to identify suspicious activity. They even cite two examples of suspicious activity reporting in New York, one from 2009 and the other from 2010.
This is not the first time FEMA has been associated with suspicious activity reporting and counter-terrorism. In 2012, they released a study
on improving the public's awareness and reporting of suspicious activity.