Strengthening terrorism detection is the purpose of a new “i-Watch” program to broaden citizen contact with the Homeland Security Bureau of Miami-Dade Police Department, according to two officers who work in the special unit.
Det. Jonathan Dweck and Det. Marc Reiche urged citizen reports of suspicious activities observed in day-to-day activity while detailing the new “See Something, Say Something” nationwide campaign during a Hammocks District Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting on June 29.
“We’d rather have you report something than let it go unnoticed, even if you may initially think it’s not worth mentioning,” Det. Reiche said.
An emblem lettered “iWATCH” backgrounded by the American flag stresses the necessity to “Report any suspicious activities to the Miami-Dade Fusion Center.”
Such calls are answered on a 24-hour Tip Line at 1-866-58-ALERT (1-866-582-5378) or by email to IOC@mdpd.com. The two detectives distributed posters and reminder cards of the new effort to alert the public to suspicious acts of behavior in everyday circumstances.
The officers are part of an MDC Bureau numbering 75 personnel under the direction of Maj. Glenn Stoltenzberg that operates within a “Fusion Center” team of federal, state and local agencies at 9105 NW 25 St. in Doral.
That centralized location of security agencies operating at different levels is one of 72 nationwide “that have developed a national network to better communicate surveillance throughout the country,” Reiche explained. “It all came about immediately after 9/11 when the New York Police Department took it on themselves to develop a wider system of interlocking communication between security agencies throughout the country.
“Today, they’ve developed their own operations to the point that the New York Fusion Center has officers working out of Rome, Israel and other overseas areas. Miami-Dade is part of that system that can immediately exchange information of activities that can be analyzed for suspicion of terrorist intent.”
As an example of followup, Reiche said, “Just recently, an individual using a cellphone called in a fake bomb warning at a local building as a prank and was identified within two hours,” Reiche noted.
“Admitting it was just a joke, he still got six months in the county jail.”
Common sense should guide personal judgment to determine reportable “suspicious” behavior in a neighborhood or workplace before telephoning or emailing the center, the officers emphasized.
For details, including guidelines on suspicious behavior, they urged visiting the Homeland Security Bureau website through links at miamidade.gov to the Police Department’s home page.