In the wake of last week’s deadly Boston Marathon bombings, local law enforcement is on high alert for suspicious behavior — and it’s getting help from the public.
The San Francisco Police Department is taking every precaution to protect city streets from potential terrorist threats, and its best tool might be the eyes and ears of the people it’s watching over.
“We can’t do it by ourselves,” Sgt. Dennis Toomer said. “So we’re asking the public to help. If everybody’s eyes are open and looking for the unusual, that just gives us more information to go out and do a proper investigation.”
In the past week, police have beefed up their presence on city streets — they are thoroughly investigating every lead; sending dogs to public events; and spreading the slogan, “If you see something, say something.”
Toomer said the public is doing a good job of keeping law enforcement informed.
“The calls that we have gotten have been very credible,” Toomer said.
On public transit, BART spokesman Jim Allison said the transit agency is currently in an “informal state of heightened vigilance,” which means train operators, station agents and supervisors are taking extra care to ensure public safety.
He said BART already has a critical-asset patrol team of seven officers and one sergeant in place to oversee activity in the corridor between downtown San Francisco and downtown Oakland. The team looks for unwatched boxes and bags while patrolling trains. Officers also are making a concerted effort to speak with passengers and encourage them to report suspicious behavior.
“We want people to call us and tell us if they see something that raises their hackles and just makes them a little uncomfortable,” Allison said.
In the aftermath of last week’s attack, Allison said, BART is receiving an uptick in phone calls from concerned passengers.
Law enforcement also has to contend with the inevitable prank threats following incidents such as the marathon bombings.
For instance, San Francisco State University evacuated its Creative Arts Building about 9 a.m. Monday after receiving a bomb threat. A box was discovered with a note attached to it claiming that a bomb would detonate at a specific time.
The scare proved to be a hoax, and the building was deemed safe at 9:45 a.m.
University police are investigating the matter, and President Leslie Wong released a statement afterward asking students to be on the lookout for suspicious behavior.
“We each have an important role to play in keeping S.F. State safe, and I thank you for your continued vigilance,” Wong said.