Now more than ever, security experts want us to remember this slogan: “If you SEE something, SAY something."

You may have noticed the slogan on posters in airports, bus terminals and train stations for years. But now, it’s showing up at more sporting events, and in public spaces – including parks, beaches, and street fairs. Experts say it’s because the police can only do so much to protect us from tragedies like the one that happened in Boston. 

And in the end, they say it’s people like you and me who have the power to prevent future attacks.

Security expert Rafi Ron says, stricter security measures have made it harder for the bad guys to target things like airplanes or government buildings. So the bad guys move onto what’s known as “softer targets” – like marathons, festivals, and even farmer’s markets. Basically, anywhere lots of people gather, with relatively no security. They’re called “softer” targets because it’s almost impossible to provide the same level of security that we’re used to seeing in airports. That’s why Ron says police need the public’s help to look for, and report, potential threats.

Exactly what should we be looking for? 

  • D. Vincent Sullivan is a retired FBI agent who says it boils down to reporting anything that looks unusual.

  • For example: We must be willing to call the police immediately if we see unattended bags, or suspicious packages in public areas.

  • Also: Look for people wearing clothing that’s out of sync with the weather, like someone wearing a trench coat on a warm, summer day.

  • It's also a red flag if you see people changing, adding, or removing clothing. That could be a sign they’re trying not to be identified.

  • Finally, be on the lookout for someone taking pictures of unusual things – like ceilings and exits. Sullivan says those can be red flags that someone’s planning an attack

Bottom line: When it comes to our security, officials say WE need to be part of the solution.