Frequently Asked Questions

Mouse-over a question to see the answer:

> What is If You See Something, Say Something™?

If You See Something, Say Something™ is a national anti-terrorism public awareness campaign that emphasizes the importance of reporting questionable activity to local law enforcement authorities. It was launched in the wake of September 11th, when the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority enlisted the eyes and ears of New York citizens as part of a local anti-terrorism strategy. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) obtained licensing rights of the slogan for anti-terrorism efforts nationally. DHS has promoted the campaign via partnerships with states, sports leagues, universities, property groups, and malls throughout the country. More information can be found at www.dhs.gov/if-you-see-something-say-something-campaign.

> Why is the If You See Something, Say Something™ campaign being promoted in Orange County?

While the campaign is a federal effort, funding is being provided for regional entities to spread the message at the local level. Promoting the campaign in our community is important because Orange County can be a target - just like any other large metropolitan area - for terrorist acts. Terrorism is not just a national issue and many citizens may not be aware that they can be active participants in keeping our local community and therefore, our nation safe. So remember: homeland security starts with hometown security.

> Who is managing the Orange County campaign?

Efforts to promote If You See Something, Say Something™ are funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI). UASI is administered jointly in Orange County by the Santa Ana and Anaheim police departments in collaboration with county and city emergency preparedness officials.

> Is this campaign about spying?

No, If You See Something, Say Something™ does not promote spying on others or making any other judgments based on race, ethnicity, national origin or religious affiliation. The approach is similar to neighborhood watch efforts, but for our greater Orange County community. It’s also in line with other initiatives such as the AMBER Alert™ Program (related to child abduction), which asks citizens to assist the police in the recovery efforts by reporting if they see something. If You See Something, Say Something™ simply encourages citizens to be active participants in helping to keep the community safe. 

> Is If You See Something, Say Something™ an anti-bullying campaign?

No. While communities across the country have applied the If You See Something, Say Something™ call-to-action message for other campaigns on topics such as anti-bullying, the original U.S. Department of Homeland Security campaign is about anti-terrorism. 

> Is this campaign effective in preventing terrorism?

The authorities have been enlisting the eyes and ears of the community for many years to help with crime prevention. This campaign is simply asking the public to be aware of their surroundings and to report something unusual or out of place in an effort to prevent terrorism. An active and aware public can be deterrence for any potential terrorist or criminal act. In fact, one high profile example of terrorism prevention took place in 2010 when a t-shirt vendor in New York Times Square reported to authorities an unattended vehicle with a running engine and smoke escaping from its vents. There was a bomb in the vehicle and authorities successfully disabled it. The culprit was later apprehended.

> How do I recognize something questionable or unusual in a public place?

Simply be aware of your surroundings, use common sense and report something that does not seem “right” to local authorities – or call 911 in an emergency.  This can include:

  • An unattended bag, briefcase or box
  • A car or truck left in a “No Parking” zone that is located in front of a public building
  • Unfamiliar chemical smells or fumes
  • Someone drawing, taking pictures or measurements of important buildings

> How can I be sure what I see is worth reporting?

You are encouraged to use common sense to report questionable objects or behavior that could be indicators of terrorism. Because you’re familiar with your neighborhood and community, your common sense can and will guide you to recognize things that are unusual, such as a bag left alone in a public venue. You can learn about key indicators of a potential terrorist act by visiting KeepOCSafe.org. Think about it this way – if something that grabs your attention as unusual it is better to be safe and report it to the authorities. 

> How do I report something to the authorities?

When contacting local authorities, describe who, when and where you saw something, and specifically what you saw. For imminent threats, always call 9-1-1. DO NOT take direct action about your suspicion. DO NOT confront anyone, reveal your suspicions or touch an object. Just contact the police.

> Do I have to tell the police who I am or provide personal information when I report something?

Reporting to the authorities is simple and you can remain anonymous. Just contact your local police department or in an emergency call 9-1-1. Visit the campaign website for a list of city police department phone numbers at KeepOCSafe.org.

> What is the purpose of the large backpack displayed in public places?

The backpack is an impactful way to deliver the campaign message that no matter the size, color, etc., an unattended object in a public venue can be pretty obvious and something that is not “right.” The campaign encourages citizens to be alert when in public and to take notice of any object, such as a bag, or box left unattended in a public venue as one indicator of a potential terrorist threat. The giant backpack is an exaggerated promotional activity to raise public awareness throughout Orange County of this message. 

> Where can I find the backpack?

The backpack will visit high-traffic Orange County venues including the OC Fair, John Wayne Airport and Angel Stadium, among others. The dates and locations where the backpack will be present can be found at KeepOCSafe.org.