It's been said more than once that when it comes to protecting our nations cities, we have to get it right every time; the terrorist only have to get it right once. When looking back at the criminal case described above involving the kidnapped woman in the back of the van, what if Ms. Young didn't take the time to follow up on her suspicions and didn't call the police? What if the van used to the kidnap the woman was instead filled with explosives and the kidnapper was instead a terrorist, parked there to give the van to a suicide bomber that was going to drive the into a large occupied building? What if...?
I had the pleasure and honor of presenting Ms. Young with the NACOP Citizen Action award for her efforts which resulted in at least one life saved, if not more. I've equally had the pleasure of presenting this award to Ms. Linda Olsen and Ms. Amber Deahn, the Denny's employees from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, who noticed a suspicious man with a young girl at their restaurant and called the police. Their tip led to the safe return of eight year-old Shasta Groene who along with her nine year old brother Dylan had gone missing from her home six weeks earlier in Coeur d'Alene when the man she was now with, killed her family and later killed her brother Dylan in front of her; to Mr. Conrad Malson who offered his remaining pizza to a man standing next to him at a restaurant in Las Vegas, Nevada and felt there was something odd about his behavior. Further study of his face lead him to believe this was the face of the "Ohio Highway Sniper", whom he had seen on TV, wanted for murder in a state thousands of miles away. After following the man back to his hotel room and contacting police several times to report his suspicion, he was proven right when they arrested the man who was convicted of the crimes; to Ms. Anita Dickerson and Ms. Nancy Montoya of Utah who unknown to each other, exited a local printing shop when each one noticed a man with a young girl acting odd and dressed peculiar. After some thought, they both dialed 911 within one minute of each other to report they believe the man they just saw was the same man in a wanted poster sketch from six months ago responsible for the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, not realizing the little girl with him was in fact Elizabeth Smart because she was covered up. Within several hours of acting on their suspicions, Elizabeth was back in the loving arms of her family because these women were not afraid to act and made the critical phone calls that made all the difference in the world.
I know from talking to all these above average citizens that they really didn't know what was wrong initially, but they felt something was and they acted on their intuition to call police. Our human senses don't tell us, this is a terrorist related suspicion versus a criminal activity suspicion. All we know is based on our life experiences, coupled with our intuition and now with good information from programs like iWATCH, "See Something, Say Something", and others, that if something doesn't seem right, we need to let someone in law enforcement know about it and let them determine what, if anything, needs to be done.
Regardless of the name of the campaign, asking the citizens of Los Angeles, New York or wherever to be on the watch for suspicious activities, based on the solid information provided to them by these programs is not asking citizens to violate others rights; it's simply another tool for law enforcement to help keep us all safe. In the end, I think most would agree that asking others to keep a watchful eye out for suspicious behaviors and actions is the best way to protect our civil rights because without this protection, we may lose our life and rights to those who wish to bring down our great nation!