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Portage County Joins National “See Something, Say Something” Campaign To Raise Awareness

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Ravenna — Portage County Commissioners and the Portage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management have become local partners with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in the campaign to help communities become more aware of out-of-the-ordinary activity.

Local efforts in the “If You See Something, Say Something™” national campaign will focus on offering basic education for residents that may or may not be needed but is a helpful tool in keeping safe, said Ryan Shackelford, director of PC OHS/EM.

“Our goal is to share the information with residents and raise awareness. Just as with preparing for any disaster, there is a good chance you won’t need to use it but your level of awareness is there to kick-in if you notice suspicious activity,” Shackelford explained.

“If You See Something, Say Something™” provides instruction about the indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime, as well as the importance of reporting suspicious activity to state and local law enforcement.

PC OHS/EM Planning, Training and Exercise Officer Cody Brookover said during the next year, Portage residents will see or hear periodic public service announcements, see information online and in print and may attend educational presentations. He added that the information applies to businesses and community organizations and institutions. It is essentially a federal campaign for homeland security that can be translated here in Portage County to the grassroots level to what is known as “Hometown Security.”

“It involves paying attention to your surroundings and if something has changed and seems suspicious. Then you need to contact local law enforcement. We know residents might be unsure about what to report so the campaign helps define that,” Brookover said.

Specifically, citizens should tell law enforcement who or what they saw; when and where it occurred and why they believe it is unusual or suspicious, he said. They should call 911 to make a report.

DHS is partnering with communities across the country for the program, as well as state and local governments, airports, colleges and universities, media, community fairs and festivals, sporting events and businesses.

“Informed, alert communities play a critical role in keeping our nation safe. We can all do our part by paying attention to our surroundings and reporting suspicious activity to local law enforcement,” said Vicki A. Kline, president of the Portage County Board of Commissioners.

PC OHS/EM will offer community presentations about the “See Something, Say Something” campaign to groups, businesses, local government and organizations. To arrange a talk, call 330-297-3607 or email rshackelford@portageco.com or cbrookover@portageco.com.

The “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign was originally implemented and trademarked by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and is licensed to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as a nationwide campaign.

In July 2010, DHS launched the campaign in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative (NSI), with the goal of training state and local law enforcement to recognize behaviors and indicators of terrorism and terrorism–related crime.

The NSI provides a framework for documenting observed suspicious behavior for analysis by Joint Terrorism Task Forces and state Fusion Center personnel. Fusion Centers operate as state and major urban area focal points for the receipt, analysis, gathering, and sharing of threat-related information between federal, state, local, tribal, territorial (SLTT); and private sector partners.

The Portage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management oversees activities to prepare residents for disasters and other emergencies; direct the response to disasters and emergencies in the county; and guides the recovery of communities and businesses after an incident. It is a department of Portage County Commissioners.

You can find information online at portageco.com/emergencymanagement.htm and at Portage Prepares, preparedness education and public information, at portageco.com/portageprep/index.html. Portage Prepares is also on Facebook and on Twitter @PortagePrep.

The PC OHS/EM office is located at 8240 Infirmary Rd., Ravenna. The phone number is 330-397-3607.