State iWatch program accepts tips via website, mobile app
AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is calling on Texans to remain vigilant regarding potential crime and terrorist activity in their communities, and to report suspicious behaviors to local authorities or the department’s iWATCH website at www.iwatchtx.org. The iWATCH program was created as a partnership between communities and law enforcement and utilizes citizen-sourced tips related to criminal activity.
“In the wake of the cowardly attack in Manchester, UK, our condolences go out to the victims and their families, and everyone impacted by this tragedy,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “We want to remind Texans of the crucial role they play in helping law enforcement protect the public from groups and lone-wolf actors intent on harming others. We urge individuals to stay alert and report any illegal or suspicious activity they witness to iWATCH or to their local authorities.”
In addition to the bombing in the UK, other terrorist, and criminal attacks have taken place around the world, including here in the U.S. Concerned citizens who observe suspicious activity can visit the iWATCH website – www.iwatchtx.org – to fill out a report, which includes contact information and specifics about a particular incident. A report usually takes fewer than five minutes to complete, and once submitted, each report is reviewed by law enforcement analysts. To make an anonymous report, individuals can contact DPS at 1-844-643-2251. (iWATCH isnot designed to report emergencies. If a situation requires an emergency response, call 911.)
Preparations for terrorist attacks may often be seen, but rarely reported. When in doubt, please speak up. Here are some examples of behaviors and activities to report:
- Strangers asking questions about building security features and procedures.
- Briefcase, suitcase, backpack or package is left behind.
- Cars or trucks are left in no-parking zones at important buildings.
- Chemical smells or fumes that are unusual for the location.
- People requesting sensitive information, such as blueprints, security plans or VIP travel schedules, without a need to know.
- Purchasing supplies that could be used to make bombs or weapons, or purchasing uniforms without having the proper credentials.
- Taking photographs or videos of security features, such as cameras or check points.
Reports to iWATCH can also be made through the DPS Mobile App. The app is currently available for iPhone users on the Apple App Store: (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/texas-dps/id902092368?mt=8) and for Android users on Google Play: (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.microassist.texasdps&hl=en).
The iWATCH website is part of the DPS Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division, which serves as the central clearinghouse for the collection, management, analysis and dissemination of law enforcement and homeland security intelligence in Texas. The DPS intelligence strategy is essential to proactive, preventive and effective law enforcement operations to combat crime and terrorism.