via http://www.lapdonline.org/iwatchla
via http://www.lapdonline.org/iwatchla

Los Angeles law enforcement officials said Thursday they are stepping up a 2009 program that asks citizens to report suspicious, potentially terrorism-related activity by expanding it to the county and raising awareness about it through an ad campaign.

Authorities announced that the city’s iWatch program has been expanded to the coverage area of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, with Sheriff Jim McDonnell urging residents and others to report what they observe as a way to fight terrorism.

“It is really incumbent on all of us as residents of Los Angeles County, as residents of this great nation, to take a stand and be able to step up,” McDonnell said. “We can’t be everywhere, but the public is everywhere.”

The iWatch program will be widely promoted on billboard space donated by Clear Channel Outdoor Americas, flyers included with Rams gear sold at the Los Angeles Coliseum and on USC’s branded re-useable bags.

The ad campaign will focus on a recently released smartphone app that law enforcement officials say will make it easier for residents to report suspicious activity.

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck said the app — which is available for Android, iPhone and iPad devices — “truly empowers our residents to report suspicious behavior or activity that may have a connection to terrorism quickly and easily, and ensures we are all engaged in protecting the safety of our region.”

Beck denied allegations from critics of the iWatch program who say it has led to a disproportionate number of reports about black residents, and that police were keeping secret files on people even though they weren’t involved in anything illegal.

Law enforcement officials said the public can also make reports at the website, http://www.iWATCHLA.org, while the telephone tip line can be reached by calling (877) A-THREAT, or (877) 284-7328.

City News Service

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