iWatch Dallas is a community awareness program that educates the community about suspicious activities & criminal behaviors. iWatch Dallas focuses on criminal behavior and criminal enterprises that could also indicate a nexus to terrorist activities. Citizens are provided a convenient reporting method to provide tips and leads to police concerning crime that is affecting their community.
Basically, they want you to call, email or text any suspicious behavior to the cops. Which, given the stupidity of the urban “stop snitchin’” campaign, isn’t a bad thing. So long as they keep it focused on actual criminal behavior — robberies, assaults, rapes, burglaries, gang activity and all the rest cops should be dealing with — hard to argue with it, right?
But as usual with these things, they take it one step beyond. Two steps, I should say: Homeland Security.
The DPD provides a bunch of information under the heading of “Homeland Security” and — as usual when you see those two words — a comedy of silliness follows. Here are a few of the things they want you to report your neighbors and fellow citizens for.
- Unusual or extended interest in public utilities, large public gatherings, transportation centers, government buildings and other possible terrorist targets.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but when there’s a large public gathering, how could you not take an extended interest? At, for instance, the State Fair? Or a parade? Or a protest? I mean, isn’t a large gathering by definition unusual?
- May carry and use large amounts of cash
So now carrying and buying with legal tender is suspicious activity.
It gets weirder. In the PDFs provided under specific categories that you can check yourself, the DPD provides even more things you can report people for.
Hotel employees are told to report people who don’t leave their hotel rooms. Or who do leave their room for too long. Or who have unusual amounts of luggage. Or not enough luggage. Also suspicious, those who request specific rooms. (No suite for you). Or who don’t want to deal with nosy hotel employees. And those who use cash.
Hobby shop owners are encouraged to report people who demonstrate an unusual interest in a hobby or sport. Which, since it’s a hobby shop, I’m pretty sure is everyone who walks in the door. And people new to the hobby are suspect and should be reported. As are experts and people who think they are experts but aren’t. Of course, you should report those who aren’t sure if they want to take something up as a hobby. And, of course, cash customers. As usual.
Mall cops, who aren’t already high strung and low self-esteemed enough to be trouble, are warned to be on the lookout for people taking pictures, shooting video or drawing. Because that’s what al Qaeda does.
Financial institutions should report anyone seeking to preserve their privacy in financial transactions. And cash deals.
Under car rentals, signs of potential terrorist activity is people who inquire about the size/capacity of limos (why else would anyone inquire?) and local attractions. An cash, of course.
If you’re curious about whether the storage rental place has good security and what kind — you’re probably a terrorist.
Basically, any common behavior is pretty much suspicious under these rules.
That’s not just my opinion. Take it from this fellow with the way-too-ironic-for-this-topic surname
American Civil Liberties Union policy counsel Mike German, a former FBI agent who worked on terrorism cases, said the indicators [from the iWatch program] are all relatively common behaviors. And he suspects people will fall back on personal biases and preconceived stereotypes of what a terrorist looks like when making the decision to report someone to the police.
“That just plays into the negative elements of society and doesn’t really help the situation,” German said. (source)
So get to work. Your fellow citizens aren’t going to inform on themselves.