Within homeowners associations throughout the United States, residents are becoming more aware not only of their community’s surroundings but also of the persons who live in their community.
Whether residents in the association are owners or renters, chances are that you will have a very diverse population living in your community at any given time. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has an initiative called, “If You See Something, Say Something.”
While we need to avoid paranoia, we owe it to our families, friends, neighbors and community to be cognizant of activity that is occurring in our homeowners associations. If something or someone seems out of place, chances are that your first instinct is correct.
When should you contact law enforcement?
According to the Department of Homeland Security, issues that may warrant contacting local law enforcement agencies include:
- Behavior that could indicate a terrorist act or planning a terrorism-related crime.
- Unusual situations might include a vehicle that is parked in an odd location, a package or luggage that is unattended, and an open window or door that is usually closed.
- Someone who pays unusual attention to facilities or buildings beyond a casual or professional interest. This includes extended loitering without explanation (particularly in concealed locations); unusual, repeated, and/or prolonged observation of a building; taking notes or measurements; counting paces; sketching floor plans, etc.
Importantly, most of these activities could be perfectly innocent, so you should let law enforcement professionals determine whether the behavior warrants investigation.
As always, call 911 in the event of an emergency, but contact your local law enforcement agency to report suspicious activity. When you call, make sure to describe specifically what you observed, who or what you saw, when you saw it, where it occurred and why it’s suspicious.
DHS emphasizes that Americans must respect citizens' privacy, civil rights and civil liberties by focusing on behavior rather than appearance. Race, ethnicity, and/or religious affiliation are not suspicious. The public should only report suspicious behavior and situations.
The purpose of this initiative is to make residents of a homeowners association community more aware of their surroundings and to give them an open door to be able to report their concerns to law enforcement.
All residents that live in a homeowners association should take an interest in their community with the objective of making the community a place where everyone is proud to call it their home.