KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Toys bought for the kids, check. Fruitcake for the annoying cousin, check. Reported suspicious behavior to local police, check.
This is exactly how the Michigan State Police want people to think this holiday season. Well, maybe not the first two components but definitely the last one. The MSP wants to remind all of those stepping out this holiday season – whether shopping or travelling – to be on the lookout for any strange and unusual behavior.
“We’re asking shoppers to be the eyes and ears of the police during this busy holiday season,” said Michigan State Police F/Lt. Dale Hinz of the Paw Paw Post. “When so many people are out and about we’re asking people to be extra vigilant and observant.”
Possible indicators of suspicious activity include any unattended bags, people behaving strangely, someone tampering with surveillance cameras and strong odors coming from buildings or vehicles. If you come across any of these, call 9-1-1 if it’s an emergency situation and 1-800-MICH-TIP for non-emergency ones.
“People know what is correct or usual in their area, even better sometimes than the police do,” F/Lt. Hinz said. “Not only for shoppers but just in general, citizens know through their daily activities what they should expect and they know what they expect to see.”
F/Lt. Hinz believes that “homeland security begins with hometown security” as he stated in a recent press release. There have not been any reports of terrorist threats in Michigan or in Kalamazoo. There's a link on our website to their video explaining the seven signs of terrorism. But no tip is a bad tip.
“Anytime somebody seems out of place its best to report that,” Lt. Hinz said. “The police will determine whether or not the person is someone to be concerned about.”
Another person to lookout for is yourself, he said.
“The best target is a distracted target, one that can’t be a good witness,” said Lt. Hinz. “One that’s distracted texting using a cell phone, distracted trying to dig through a purse or something like that is an easy target. Someone who’s, vigilant who’s looking around at all times is much less likely to target because people don’t want to be observed.”
Whether at malls shopping for gifts or waiting for departure at airports, train stations or bus depots police want people to be aware of their surroundings at all times.
“We’re asking citizens to be proactive about this, “ said F/Lt. Hinz. “We’re asking them to be our eyes and ears. So that we can take situations like this proactively instead of reactively.”
If you see something, you should call 911 or 1-800-MICH-TIPS or fill out a suspicious activity report here. They've also posted a video on the 7 Signs of Terrorism. You can watch that below.