Louisiana second state with 'See Something Send Something' initiative

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | Monday, May 13, 2013

Louisiana is partnering with a mobile phone app programmer to help law enforcement investigate suspicious activity.

“See Something Send Something” is a nationwide suspicious activity reporting (SAR) tool for citizens to help in the fight against terrorism and criminal activity. Additionally, the free app has information on what to look for and when to submit suspicious activity reports along with how to receive important alerts.

The system connects concerned citizens, first responders and law enforcement to key intelligence centers including the Louisiana State Analytical & Fusion Exchange (LA-SAFE). The system routes geo-tagged suspicious activity reports and location-based messages to intelligence centers, providing analysts the ability to receive, sort, search and analyze inbound SARs.

“There are approximately 30,000 police officers in Louisiana, so that’s 30,000 pairs of eyes, but if you add 4 million people in the state, that’s a powerful investigation tool,” said Capt. Doug Cain, a spokesman for the Louisiana State Police. “The public plays a critical role in law enforcement, and when we work together and share our resources, everybody wins.”

On May 10, Louisiana became the second state to partner with My Mobile Witness on a new cooperative endeavor titled “See Something Send Something” which will connect citizens and their mobile devices to criminal intelligence centers nationwide. Pennsylvania became the first state to do so in January of this year.

“See Something Send Something” is a free smartphone application that allows suspicious activity to be captured as a photo and as written text and sent directly to the fusion centers where the tips and information can be evaluated and then forwarded to law enforcement across the state, or nationally, as needed.

Both law enforcement and the company are hoping truckers will be among the users who will take advantage of the free app, which is available nationwide.

“Truckers are out there every day, all day and all night,” Cain said. “We’d love for them to be a partner in this. If they see something that they think law enforcement needs to know about, we welcome their efforts.”

Ron Knight, a retired FBI agent and law enforcement adviser to My Mobile Witness, also touted truckers as potentially playing a key role in helping to report suspicious activities.

“In my career I’ve never had better witnesses than truckers and taxi drivers,” he said. “When something’s out of the ordinary, they’re very quick to pick it up.

“Say a trucker sees something out of the ordinary that doesn’t quite rise to the 911 level, like say plates that don’t match,” he said. “That’s kind of the area we’re looking to work, that area between doing nothing and the 911 call. … You take the picture, you send it in, and if it turns out to be nothing, no harm no foul.”

When a user submits a photo, Knight said the image goes to a secure server linked to law enforcement. An analyst will review the information and, if necessary, flag it for law enforcement.

The application is available at no cost for iPhone and Android phone users, as well as iPad users. The service, which is provided by Mobile Witness Inc., uses privacy protection software for safeguarding the integrity of tips and citizens’ personal information. The system allows LA-SAFE to engage citizens without tracking location or storing of personal information. Submitted tips are immediately removed from the mobile device and purged from the My Mobile Witness system once delivered to the LA-SAFE center for analysis.

This system is not intended for emergency situations. For situations requiring an immediate response, Cain said users should always call 911.

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