February is Security Awareness Month: Here’s what you need to know concerning reporting suspicious activities

By Russell Pitts, security specialist/ antiterrorism officer Defense Logistics Agency Installation Operations at Richmond

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You have been parking your vehicle in the same parking lot and walking to your office for the past year. You know the quickest route; how many steps it will take and your environment. You know this path like the back of your hand. Therefore, it’s safe to assume you would also know if something or someone is out of the ordinary.

You, as an employee of Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia, are considered the first line of defense to a safe and secure work place. You have the responsibility to report suspicious activity or items to your supervisor or to a security official.

What is suspicious activity? According to the Department of Homeland Security website, suspicious activity is defined as any observed behavior that could indicate terrorism or terrorism-related crime. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • unusual items or situations: a vehicle parked in an odd location; unattended packages/luggage; a window/door is open that is usually closed; or other out-of-the-ordinary situations.

  • eliciting information: A person questions individuals at a level beyond curiosity about a building’s purpose, operations, security procedures and/or personnel, shift changes, etc.

  • observation/surveillance: Someone pays unusual attention to facilities or buildings beyond a casual or professional interest. This includes extended loitering without explanation (particularly in concealed locations); unusual, repeated, and/or prolonged observation of a building (e.g., with binoculars or video camera); taking notes or measurements; counting paces; sketching floor plans, etc.

Some of these activities could be innocent. It's up to law enforcement to determine whether the behavior warrants investigation. The above activities are not all-inclusive, but have been compiled based on studies of pre-operational aspects of both successful and thwarted terrorist events over several years.

How to Report Suspicious Activity

DLA has established several communication avenues to receive your information:

  • DLA iWatch – DLAAVNiWatch@dla.mil,

  • 911 (on base phone only) or 804-279-4888 (all phones), and

  • your supervisor.

Describe specifically what you observed, including:

  • who or what you saw;

  • when you saw it;

  • where it occurred; and

  • why it's suspicious.