Post-Zazi, How Police Want You to Report Suspicious Characters

October 5 2009, 10:40 AM

iwatch1From the standpoint of the investigators charged with uncovering terrorist plots, keeping tabs on the Muslim community is a sensitive matter; some of those best positioned to provide an early warning about potential attackers can be easily alienated. As The Washington Post notes, in the wake of Aurora airport-shuttle driver Najibullah Zazi's arrest, the tenuous balance has been tested again. But we live in a you-can-never-be-too-safe world, one in which some police departments now actively urge community assistance in watching neighborhoods. Citing Zazi's purchase of chemicals that could be mixed to make a bomb, Los Angeles police commander Joan McNamara told police chiefs at a national meeting in Denver that agencies need to offer citizens tools to identify and report suspicious characters (via The Associated Press). The solution is the iWatch program, according to McNamara, which is already running in Los Angeles. iWatchLA asks people to monitor "religious facilities," mass gatherings, and people who dress too warm for the weather. American Civil Liberties Union policy counsel Mike German, a former FBI agent who worked on terrorism cases, worries personal biases and stereotypes will abound. Meanwhile, local sheriff's deputies say school officials were recently duped by private investigators wearing discount-store hats reading "CSI." The PIs were looking for a missing child in a civil custody case, according to 9News.