Saturday, June 4, 2011

DHS Incident Reporting Page Update 06-02-11

On Thursday DHS updated their web page for incident reporting. They added a new section and removed a section that was on the earlier version of the web page.

See Something Say Something

The added information is a section at the top of the page for the Department’s “See Something Say SomethingTM” campaign. It advises people to report suspicious activity to the local police and to dial 911 in the event of an emergency. It also provides a link to the web site for “See Something Say Something” campaign.

This is, of course, good information, but it is a sad comment on the state of security awareness in the country when a Federal agency like DHS has to take this kind of formal effort to push a publicity campaign to get the public to report suspicious activity to their local police.

FBI Removed from Site

The 4S blurb actually replaces a section found on the earlier site for reporting suspected criminal or terrorist activity. That earlier section urged reporting to the FBI instead of local police and provided multiple links to the FBI. That section didn’t provide a distinction between suspicious activity and an emergency situation which would require notification via 911.

Sadly, when the 4S section was added it did totally replace the earlier information and there is now no link to the FBI on this web page. It’s sad because the FBI is the agency on the Federal level that is tasked with investigating terrorism. Of course, one would like to think that a suspicious activity report specifically linked to a possible terrorist attack submitted to the local police would automatically be forwarded to the FBI in a timely manner.

Now I understand that the distinction between what suspicious activity should be reported to the local police and which should be reported directly to the FBI is a fairly sophisticated concept. I would suggest, however, that someone who is going to look for a DHS web site on incident reporting to look for suspicious activity contact information is probably capable of understanding that distinction if even a modicum of writing talent is used in the explanation.

Missing Information

This site provides contact information for reporting suspicious activity for immigration issues, chemical facility issues, computer issues and activity in and around Federal Buildings. It doesn’t, however, provide contact information for incidents involving either transportation or maritime related activity. I don’t understand why the two largest counter-terrorism programs within the Department (TSA and Coast Guard/MTSA) are ignored like this.

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