Safe OC expanding and evolving to protect the community from emerging threats


In the world in which we live, preparedness and vigilance are more important than ever. Whether it’s the rise of shootings, or the migration of terrorism into cyberspace, crime and terror are constantly evolving and law enforcement has to adapt in response.

For that reason, the Safe OC website, a localized version of the national “If You See Something, Say Something” anti-terrorism public awareness campaign, is growing and altering its look and information to better react to the changing nature of danger.

In addition to information from the national campaign, Safe OC now has a button to submit tips on its home page as well as links to local contacts for where to report suspicious activity, including 34 local law enforcement agencies.

Also included are threats that have emerged in the past dozen years since the program was created, such as cyber security, active shooters and human trafficking.

The updated site also features resources such as parental support, social media toolkits, online resources and public service announcements. There’s even an app.

In addition to updating its website, Safe OC will soon launch a newsletter that will not only help residents be aware but actively engage in issues of safety.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees See Something Say Something, was created in 2002 in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. At that time, there was a feeling that the U.S. was a nation under siege. DHS was seen as “a comprehensive national strategy to safeguard the country against terrorism and respond to any future attacks.”

In the near-term that meant ensuring no more planes flew into skyscrapers and preventing attacks on the scale of Sept. 11. Since then, the department’s goals and scope have evolved to encompass 22 federal departments and agencies. Cybersecurity, digital strategies and enlisting public participation have all been folded into its mandate.

The “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign was originally implemented and trademarked by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority to promote commuter awareness to, among other things, be on the lookout for abandoned luggage in which bombs could be hidden. The campaign went through multiple iterations before it was licensed to DHS for its nationwide campaign in 2010. That version was launched in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice to train law enforcement to recognize indicators of terrorism.

The world has changed considerably since then, though the foundational elements of joint awareness and vigilance remain. Sites like Safe OC continue to be one way citizens and law enforcement can keep abreast in an ever changing environment.