In the wake of the horrible incident in Brussels, I wanted to re-post a piece from April 16, 2013 that discusses what to look out for while using transit. No, this is not a scavenger hunt, but rather a reminder to to keep a sharp eye out for anything suspicious. You may have seen or heard about security awareness campaigns put out by your area transit district since the 9/11 incidents in 2001. In Tampa and New York City – among other transit districts, there have been posters and placards that read, If you see something, say something.
Below are some key things (noted by the NYC MTA) to look out for:
- Be alert to unattended packages – Especially packages that may be left in an awkward or “out of the way” place, like underneath a bench.
- Be wary of suspicious behavior – This can sometimes be difficult to notice, but if you notice that something just isn’t right about someone, don’t wait until it’s too late.
- I especially want to point out any instances where you may see a group of people going about in an orchestrated manner. These circumstances often signal that a possible terrorist attack is about to take place.
- Take notice of people in bulky or inappropriate clothing – For instance; it just doesn’t seem right to see someone clustered within a group of people, wearing a heavy jacket in the middle of a hot summer day.
- Report exposed wiring or other irregularities – For instance, a security alarm panel that has numerous wires (especially cut wires) sticking out may be a sign that the device may have been tampered with.
- Report anyone tampering with surveillance cameras or entering unauthorized areas – I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. If someone is not authorized to enter a restricted area, but deliberately tries to get into a restricted area without permission, that person may be up to something.
- Know what to do in an event of an evacuation – It is vital to know how to evacuate a bus or train in the event that an evacuation is ordered. Your area transit district should have specific guidelines in place that facilitate an orderly evacuation from the transit system.
If you see anything of the above, or any other suspicious happenings, don’t just sit and wait! Alert a local law enforcement official or transit employee immediately! In some major cities, like New York City, special telephone numbers have been set up so that you can immediately report such activity. In New York City, the number is 888-NYC-SAFE (888-692-7233).
The day before the incidents in Brussels, the NYC MTA unveiled a new safety campaign called “New Yorkers Keep New York Safe”. Learn more about the campaign on the MTA’s website.