SPECIAL REPORT: Truckers have resource for reporting suspicious activity

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line staff writer | 9/10/2010

Friday, Sept. 10, 2010 – With tension surrounding religious protests this week and the upcoming Sept. 11 observance, the federal government has posted warnings to travelers abroad about potentially heightened security risks around the world.

Though one American minister reportedly canceled plans to burn copies of the Qur’an this weekend, the Sept. 11 anniversary has prompted a warning from the U.S. State Department to U.S. citizens traveling abroad.

“Demonstrations, some violent, have already taken place in several countries, including Afghanistan and Indonesia, in response to media reports of the church’s plans,” the report read. “We urge you to pay attention to local reaction to the situation and to avoid areas where demonstrations may take place.”

The State Department’s travel warning didn’t warn of any specific threat within the U.S.

“U.S. government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert,” said a warning issued Thursday, Sept. 9.

Should truckers witness anything suspicious at home, truckers have a toll-free 24-hour resource they can reach to give information about activity or circumstances they notice that, while curious, don’t necessarily warrant a 9-1-1 call.

OOIDA is a subcontractor for First Observer – the Transportation Security Administration’s trucking security program. First Observer aims to develop training modules for highway professionals, train them for anti-terrorism and security preparedness, and receive information from those drivers.

First Observer’s website and toll free call center (888-217-5902) are available to truckers 24 hours a day.

Doug Morris, who heads OOIDA’s security operations, said truckers have placed 3,000 calls to the First Observer program. Morris said 95 such calls from truckers enrolled and trained in First Observer have resulted in major investigations.

He urged truckers to call if they suspect any potential crime or terrorist activity.

“Every day the public should be cognizant that a terror attack could occur anywhere, anytime,” Morris told Land Line Friday. “Specifically, there may be a heightened risk around significant dates associated with terrorists such as 9/11.”

The First Observer program is run by HMS Co. under a contract funded by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. First Observer has a call center in the DC area, which is trained to gather information from trucking professionals.

OOIDA provides First Observer training and outreach to its 154,000 membership of small-business and professional truckers. Other subcontractors under HMS Co. include the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Total Security Services International Inc., and Patton Boggs LLP.

Truckers that have access to a computer should register as a First Observer online at www.firstobserver.com. If you don’t have access, call the 24/7 number at 888-217-5902, and an operator will help you register.

Copyright © OOIDA