Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Operation Safeguard

Operation Safeguard in Binghamton
By WBNG News

Many violent situations could have been prevented, had those who noticed warning signs come forward earlier, which is why New York State's Office of Homeland Security created Operation Safeguard.

Multimedia Watch The Video Action News reporter Gabe Osterhout explains how local police and churches are learning how to utilize the program to prevent future violence.

Several groups met at the Broome County Council of Churches office in Binghamton to discuss ways to keep people safe in large groups.

Specifically in church.

But it could also be used for large gathering places like the American Civic Association or Binghamton University.

"If you see warning signs of suspicious activity in regards to problems in and around, particularly today was discussion about houses of worship or your congregations, don't be afraid to pass that information on," says Major Mark Smolinsky of the Broome County Sheriff's Office.

The New York State office of Homeland security's Operation Safeguard supplies a toll free number.

It urges you to call them with any concerns of suspicious activity.

You can give your name confidentially and local law enforcement agencies will check out the situation.

"It's always a case where people Monday morning quarterback issues after the fact and we see warning signs of this or that comes out. This is a proactive approach for preventing things of that nature," Smolinsky says.

There are several warning signs people can look for.

"Strange language, interesting behavior, the way someone's casing a building, some of the questions they are asking," says Rev. Cris Mogenson of the Broome County Council of Churches.

Bottom line, if you see something that looks out of the ordinary to you, call the hotline.

It could prevent the next public tragedy.

In Binghamton, Gabe Osterhout, WBNG-TV Action News.

If you see or hear something suspicious and would like to report it, you can call the New York State Terrorism Hotline at 1-866-SAFE-NY.

That's 1-866-723-3697.

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