L.A. police to expand anti-terror program

08:06, June 04, 2010      

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The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) plans to expand an anti-terror program which involves the public in the effort, a newspaper report said on Thursday.

The program, named iWatch, offers a crash course in identifying the types of activity the department deems suspicious and allows people to report questionable incidents to police, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"Everyone has a part to play when it comes to keeping this city safe," LAPD Deputy Chief Michael Downing, who manages the counter- terrorism efforts, was quoted as saying. "We felt people really needed to understand the nature of this threat and that they have a significant role."

To further anti-terror efforts, the LAPD is set to expand the program into the Los Angeles International Airpor (LAX) with fliers and posters alerting travelers to the program, the report said.

The iWatch program stems from an earlier revamping by the LAPD of the way its officer report suspicious activity. The department was one of the first in the country to formalize a list of red-flag activities -- such as bulk purchases of fertilizer that could be used in explosives, vehicles left unattended in loading zones at high-profile buildings -- and require officers to fill out forms that describe in detail any potential terrorist-related activity, whether or not a crime was committed.

Counter-terrorism analysts in the department put the information into a database to find patterns and trends.

Information is relayed to the department's counter-terrorism analysts through an online portal in which people are asked to provide detailed descriptions, including video or photographs if they have them, of what they saw and descriptions of the people involved, according to the report. If LAPD analysts determine the reported activity has a possible link to terrorism, it is forwarded to a multi-agency regional task force charged with investigating suspected terrorism, the report said.



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