Reporting Suspicious Behavior
Police officers do well to remember that the average person rarely has personal contact with the police. They aren’t arrested, they aren’t stopped for traffic violations, they aren’t the victim of a crime, and they are rarely asked to step forward as a witness. While questioning a witness is routine for an officer, it’s far from the norm for most people that see a crime or a suspicious situation.
What has become a common phrase most often used in anti-terrorism and anti-violence (school and work place shootings specifically) is, “If you see something, say something.” The Police Department would like Village residents to take that adage to heart even in what may appear to be more mundane circumstances, and call police when they see something that appears suspicious.
What does suspicious behavior look like? It may include some of the following:
- Unusual items or situations: A vehicle is parked in an odd location, a package/luggage is unattended, a window/door is open that is usually closed, a vehicle is moving slower than other traffic and passes multiple times.
- Unusual behavior: A person is seen at a home or business accessing a non-public area; going around to the backyard, on the employee side of a service counter, entering a backroom reserved for employees. It may be someone who loiters longer than normal near a bank or a convenience store.
- Absence of normal pattern: A neighbor hasn’t been seen in a few days, mail has stacked up in his / her mailbox, the lawn isn’t cut, a co-worker failed to report for work and didn’t call.
- Eliciting information: A is person asking questions at a level beyond curiosity about a building’s purpose, operations, security procedures and/or personnel, or asking for personal identifying information such as social security numbers, dates of birth, addresses.
Some of these activities could be innocent—it’s important to consider the context of the situation. It's then up to law enforcement to determine whether the behavior warrants investigation. The Department encourages citizens to error on the side of caution and call police when they feel something is amiss. The result of such a call might be the prevention or clearance of a crime, but even if that doesn’t occur, it’s an opportunity for our officers to become better acquainted with our citizens.
The father of modern policing, Sir Robert Peel, said “The police are the public and the public are the police.” We have a safer Village when we work together.