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Terrorism & What You Can Do
What Is Terrorism?
There is no universally accepted definition of terrorism and even when people do agree on a definition of terrorism, they sometimes disagree about whether or not the definition fits a particular incident.
Terrorism, as defined in the American Heritage Dictionary, "The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.
Terrorism is the use of force or violence against persons or property in violation of the criminal laws of the United States for purposes of intimidation, coercion or ransom. Terrorists often use threats to create fear among the public, to try to convince citizens that their government is powerless to prevent terrorism, and to get immediate publicity for their cause.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) categorizes terrorism in the United States as one of two types-domestic terrorism or international terrorism.
Domestic terrorism involves groups or individuals whose terrorist activities are directed at elements of our government or population without foreign direction.
International terrorism involves groups or individuals whose terrorist activities are foreign-based and/or directed by countries or groups outside the United States or whose activities transcend national boundaries.
What You Need To Know!
Education and communication are key. It is essential that citizens have a heightened awareness and practice the same crime prevention techniques regarding terrorism as they would for other crime. Together, law enforcement and the public can reduce the danger of terrorism.
Vigilance on the part of all citizens is one of the best ways of preventing and detecting crime, including terrorist crime. All citizens can participate in prevention, commercial and residential property owners, commercial or private vehicle sellers, bankers, landlords, travel agents, hotel/motel receptionists and neighbors. Are you suspicious, about your tenants? If you have sold a motor vehicle, were you suspicious about the purchasers? Was a large amount of cash used for a transaction?
"Changing the Mindset."
The recent tragedy on September 11, 2001 in New York has proven that it can "happen to us." Up until that moment the latest statistics (1996) had shown through a nationwide survey that seventy-two percent (72%) of Americans didn't believe that terrorists could use a weapon of mass destruction to attack a United States city. Additionally, two out of three (66%) of Americans said they are not much or not at all worried about terrorism in public places. Things have changed.
The First Step…Heightened Awareness
Be alert and aware of your surrounding area. The very nature of terrorism suggests that there may be little or no warning.
In all aspects of crime prevention it is important to understand your own survival signals. Often crime prevention professionals refer to your "gut feelings," this in fact is a one of the messengers of your intuition. The root meaning of intuition is "to guard, to protect," and can serve as an invaluable tool. Call it what you want that nagging feeling, persistent thoughts, hunch or suspicion. It is important not to ignore your survival signals.
What Am I Looking For?
It doesn't matter whether you are at work, at play, running errands, or shopping, you must practice good crime prevention habits all the time. Most importantly advise law enforcement or someone in authority immediately when you witness suspicious activity.
In most cases crime prevention professionals can give you specifics as to how you can avoid becoming a victim. Don't open your door to strangers, use locking devices on your house, vehicle and bicycle, don't leave your cell phone or other valuable items sitting on your car seat in plan view.
Citizens can adapt the same techniques practiced in everyday crime prevention toward terrorism.
If you suspect it, report it!
Be aware of conspicuous or unusual behavior.
Have you overheard threatening or suspicious remarks?
Is that an unattended backpack-brief case or a bomb?
Do you rent or sell residential or commercial property? Are you suspicious about your tenants?
Have you sold a vehicle recently and are suspicious about the purchasers?
At work, have you rented out a truck or moving van and are suspicious about the transaction?
As a hotel/motel front desk clerk, have you rented a room and are suspicious about the renters?
At Work
Report suspicious packages
Report suspicious vehicles
Report abandoned or unattended vehicles in the parking garage
Allow only authorized cleaning personnel into the facility
Check security arrangements
Check security cameras to make sure they are working properly
While Traveling
Do not leave your luggage unattended, even for a minute
Do not accept packages from strangers
As much as possible, avoid luggage tags, dress and behavior that may identify you as an American
Try to minimize the time spent in public areas at airports. Move quickly from the check-in counter to secured areas
If you planning to travel abroad consult the Department of State's Public Announcements, Travel Warnings, Consular Information Sheets, and regional travel brochures, all of which are available at the Consular Affairs Internet web-site at
Hate Crimes
Hate crimes-violent acts against people, property, or organizations because of the group to which they belong or identify with-are a tragic part of the most recent terrorist act. Hate crime is defined as "the violence of intolerance and bigotry, intended to hurt and intimidate someone because of their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.
Immediately report any hate crime to law enforcement.
Coping with Terrorism
Terrorism threatens a society by instilling fear and helplessness in its citizens. It seeks to hold a society or government hostage by fear of destruction and harm.
The Office of Community Liaison, Austin Police Department, presents this information:
Lolita Slagle
Office of Community Liaison
(512) 974-5026
For more information contact:
Robert Crampton CCPS
Office of Community Liaison
(512) 416-5553