TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Just 10 days before the 10 year anniversary of the September 11th attacks, The Department of Homeland Security is launching a new initiative in Florida. It encourages Floridians to report people they think are suspicious.
In a 10 minute video on the Department of Homeland Security’s website a host of mainly white male actors break into secure areas, place suspicious packages and run reconnaissance on public transportation.
The video is part of a Homeland Security Initiative new to Florida to encourage people to report activities they deem suspicious.
Law enforcement officers say the state is safer than it was before 9/11, there are no specific threats and people are already calling police to report suspicious activity. They don’t want citizens to let their guard down.
“We have no specific threats. This is an enhancement of what we have now," said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey.
A hot-line number has been set up. 1-855-FLA-SAFE
The phone is answered at the Florida Fusion Center which is a hub that gathers intelligence from local, state, and federal agencies on people the government thinks could be planning a terrorist attack.
Homeland Security credits citizen reports for stopping a Time Square bombing last year and a gunman targeting a military base in Texas.
Governor Rick Scott says if the program saves one life it’s worth it. “Law enforcement is there to take care of us.”
Since 9/11 the US has killed Osama Bin Laden, run terrorists out of Afghanistan and given the Transportation Security Administration a lot of leeway at airports; it’s unclear how effective these efforts are, but the country hasn’t been attacked again.
Homeland Security is asking people to focus on activities, not people’s ethnicity, religion or political views. If someone is reported strictly because of their religion or ethnicity, investigators say they’ll ignore the report.
The American Civil Liberties Union does not like the initiative
“These ‘turn in your neighbor’ programs produce unreliable information and are little more than a government-sponsored invitation to view everyone as a potential criminal and act on racial and ethnic stereotypes,” said Howard Simon, the Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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