07/09/04 — Base urges residents to be alert

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Base urges residents to be alert

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on July 9, 2004 1:59 PM

With local and national elections coming up this year, Air Force officials are urging Wayne County residents to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity that could lead to terrorism.

The Office of Special Investigations at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base implemented the EagleEyes program soon after the Sept. 11 attacks. Office agents are reaching out to the area's schools, churches and civic groups to teach others how to be aware of suspicious activity on and around the base.

"It's important that the local citizens know what to look for," said Brad W. Houston, special agent in charge.

The program provides a 24-hour number, 722-1213, that people can call when they see suspicious activity.

The EagleEyes program teaches citizens to watch out for these behaviors: someone using cameras, notepads, or binoculars to record activities; attempts to gain information by mail, fax or in person about military affairs; attempts to penetrate physical security barriers; purchasing or stealing weapons, explosives, uniforms and other controlled items; suspicious persons out of place, including people who don't belong in the workplace or neighborhood.

Other behaviors to look out for include: a dry run, which involves putting people into position without actually committing a terrorist act; and people and supplies getting into position to commit the act.

Seymour Johnson has not had any terrorist incidents recently, although the office has received some calls of suspicious activity, said Houston.

The office works with local law enforcement agencies and the base's security forces. He said all Air Force installations have instituted the program, and it has also spread to some Naval and Army bases.

Houston and other agents have already contacted all the families and businesses living around Seymour Johnson's perimeter to make them aware of the program.

He said preventing terrorist activity takes a community effort and begins with people being aware of their surroundings. If anything suspicious is noticed, he encourages people not to be hesitant to call the EagleEyes number.

"The bottom line is you've got to report it," he said.