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Help keep our hometown secure

Posted April 20, 2018

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Americans traveling to European countries are often taken aback by the large military and law enforcement presence patrolling tourist areas, airports and public events. This open display of heavily-armed patrols is used to help detour potential acts of terrorism, and is seen in foreign lands where terrorist acts are more common.

America has not escalated to this level of homeland security, but the fight against terrorism is happening 24 hours a day. We can feel safe, thanks in large part to efforts by Fort Worth Police and Fire departments. First responders are working daily to help protect Fort Worth residents and visitors by gathering critical information and training for many types of terrorist acts.

The Joint Hazard Intervention Team (JHIT) is made up Fort Worth Fire Department bomb technicians, explosive detection K9 teams, hazardous-materials technicians and Fort Worth Police Department Homeland Security Unit officers. The JHIT may also be augmented by state and federal personnel.

Team members combine their efforts to gather information about potential acts of terrorism on “soft target” sites such as public festivals, parades, political events, sports car races and college sporting events — any type of event that draws large crowds.

Meetings are held months in advance with event organizers and other first responder groups. During these meetings, the public’s safety is key. Operational plans are drafted, timetables are set and information is exchanged.

As the event draws near, it is common for police to inspect suspected target venues, while the Fire Department’s bomb squad dogs search for the smell of explosives before an event is set to open. Throughout the duration of the event, Police, Fire, Emergency Medical Service and JHIT personnel are standing by to prevent, respond to, mitigate and recover from acts of terrorism or violence.

What you can do

Do your part to keep Fort Worth safe by reporting suspicious activities in your neighborhood. It is likely that domestic and foreign terrorists will try to blend in and keep a low profile until it is time to act, but sometimes clues will pop up.

You know what is normal in your neighborhood and workplace, and you know when something does not feel right. Unfamiliar vehicles appearing around abandoned houses, strangers in the neighborhood sketching buildings or asking questions about schools, shift changes or the number of police patrols in the area might be a sign that information is being collected for a possible terrorist act.

If you see something that is out of the ordinary — a strange vehicle loaded with boxes and wires that is parked near an electric or communications substation, a backpack or box left unattended in a crowded area or perhaps a slip of the tongue when an angry coworker is venting — it might be an indication of possible violence.

Fort Worth’s first responders do a great job gathering information, but they cannot stay on top of everything. They are counting on your support. Help them gain an advantage in the fight against terrorism. If you See Something, Say Something.

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