This week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released an update to the national terrorism alert system that will include bulletins to notify the public about any concerns or additional security measures. This is the first change to the National Terrorism Advisory (NTAS) since 2011 when the original color-coded system was replaced.
“The new DHS bulletins are an enhanced tool intended to keep our citizens informed about what risks we are facing as a nation and to reiterate the need for the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to law enforcement,” said Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general and Gov. Scott Walker’s homeland security advisor.
“The terrorism alert system update falls in line with Wisconsin’s Homeland Security Strategy’s vision to support an overall culture of preparedness, shared by all Wisconsin citizens, informed and supported by a collaborative, flexible, and integrated homeland security structure,” he said.
DHS said in a release the NTAS Bulletins will provide information describing broader or more general trends and current developments regarding threats of terrorism. They will share important terrorism-related information with the American public and various partners and stakeholders, including in those situations where additional precautions may be warranted, but where the circumstances do not warrant the issuance of an “elevated” or “imminent” Alert. An NTAS Bulletin will summarize the issue and why it is important for public awareness, outline U.S. government counterterrorism efforts, and offer recommendations to the public on how it can contribute to the overall counterterrorism effort.
The DHS release also said that with the introduction of the Bulletin, NTAS will now consist of two types of advisories: Bulletins and Alerts. As under the existing system, if there is sufficient information regarding a credible, specific terrorist threat against the United States, such that it is reasonable to recommend implementation of protective measures to thwart or mitigate against an attack, DHS will share an NTAS Alert — either Elevated or Imminent — with the American public. The Alert may include specific information, if available, about the nature of the threat, including the geographic region, mode of transportation, or critical infrastructure potentially affected by the threat, as well as steps that individuals and communities can take to protect themselves and help prevent, mitigate, or respond to the threat.
The update to the NTAS will allow DHS to better achieve the goal of making sure Americans across the country have the information they need to keep themselves and their communities safer. This action is not in response to a specific, credible threat to the homeland, but is a prudent measure to ensure that Americans are better prepared and aware of the evolving terrorist threats, DHS said in the release.
More information about the DHS system can be found online.
Madison – Governor Scott Walker joined Major General Don Dunbar, law enforcement representatives, and representatives from the Wisconsin Homeland Security Council today to remind Wisconsin citizens to be vigilant this holiday season and report any suspicious activity.
“It’s incredibly important for Wisconsinites to be aware of their surroundings, especially during the holiday season when we attend special events, shop for our loved ones, and travel,” Governor Walker said. “If you see something that doesn’t look right or someone is acting suspicious, contact the local authorities. Please don’t hesitate to speak up. Citizen tips help our law enforcement officers do their job to keep Wisconsin and our communities safe.”
In 2012, Governor Walker launched the “See Something, Say Something” campaign in Wisconsin. The national “If You See Something, Say Something™” public awareness campaign is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This simple and effective program raises public awareness of indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime and emphasizes the importance of reporting suspicious activity to law enforcement.
“The role of law enforcement is to protect our state and our nation. However, everyone can help by reporting suspicious activities,” said Major General Don Dunbar, the Adjutant General and Wisconsin’s Homeland Security Advisor. “Suspicious activities could be an unattended backpack or briefcase in a public place, a vehicle that is parked in a strange location, or someone who is acting unusual.”
The Wisconsin “See Something, Say Something” campaign is coordinated by the state’s two fusion centers – the Southeastern Wisconsin Threat Analysis Center (STAC) in Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Statewide Information Center (WSIC) in Madison. Both fusion centers serve local, county, and state public safety customers by sharing intelligence, offering training on the behaviors and indicators of terrorism, protecting Wisconsin’s critical infrastructure through risk assessments, and analyzing national threat information as it relates to Wisconsin.
If someone sees something suspicious, they should contact their local law enforcement by dialing 9-1-1. Information can also be submitted through Wisconsin’s “See Something, Say Something” campaign called WiWatch. Tips can either be submitted electronically and anonymously at www.wiwatch.org or by calling a law enforcement agent at 1-877-WI-WATCH (1-877-949-2824).