(WASHINGTON, DC) – Mayor Vincent C. Gray said today that his public-safety team is redoubling its efforts to protect the public in the face of credible and specific -- but unconfirmed -- threats relayed by federal officials.
For the past week the District has been at a heightened state of alert against potential threats surrounding the 9-11 tenth anniversary. But, Mayor Gray said, the new threat means District officials will further bolster security precautions.
“Yesterday, I was briefed on credible but unconfirmed threats to the Washington, DC area,” Mayor Gray said. “Since that time, members of my public-safety team have been in constant contact with their federal counterparts, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Joint Forces Headquarters. We are working closely with them to share information and coordinate our efforts.”
Federal officials warned government leaders in the Washington and New York areas of threats from credible sources with specific information that had not been independently confirmed. Mayor Gray discussed the threat with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano last night.
“We take these threats seriously -- as we do all threats to our city -- and citizens should know we are taking all the appropriate steps to ensure their safety,” Mayor Gray said.
District officials activated a security plan on Sept. 1 in preparation for the 9-11 anniversary. The plan includes an increase in Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) presence, which residents will likely notice over the weekend. Federal officials are also activating their plans and working closely with MPD and other District agencies.
MPD has stepped up its efforts, with officers working 12-hour shifts and operating on a restricted-leave policy. Police are also continuing to support the work of the FBI and federal intelligence community, remaining in 24-hour-a-day contact to share information and work to mitigate any potential threat to the District of Columbia. MPD, the Mayor’s office and the District government will continue to keep the community apprised of any information that can assist in investigative efforts.
Other District agencies are partnering with the MPD to ensure that their workers, who have boots on the ground, are keeping a close eye out for any activity that appears out of place or suspicious.
“I am asking the community to support our public-safety efforts by being alert to suspicious activity as well,” Mayor Gray said. “Often people are hesitant to report something suspicious, but police say it’s better to err on the side of safety and report it to 911. Within the District, we also have a non-emergency call center at 311. We are prepared for larger-than-normal call volume on both lines.”
Examples of reasons to call 911, Mayor Gray said, include:
• Vehicles parked illegally in front of entrances to venues – such as government buildings, restaurants, transit stations, theaters, sports arenas, convention halls and houses of worship -- that host large groups of people.
• Vehicles that appear overloaded or have strange odors coming from them.
• Persons acting very suspicious or nervous for no apparent reason.
• Briefcases, luggage, backpacks, or packages left unattended in public places and on public transit.
• Intruders in secure areas where they are not supposed to be.
“Trust your instincts, just as we do for our daily lives -- if it doesn’t LOOK right, SMELL right, or SOUND right, report it by calling 911,” Mayor Gray said. “Remember, your attention to detail and awareness of suspicious behavior can help stop a crime from occurring.”