"See Something, Say Something", and you could prevent a crime - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

"See Something, Say Something", and you could prevent a crime

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Sometimes, all it takes to either prevent a tragedy like the bombings at the Boston Marathon, or solve an investigation, is one alert citizen who tips off police.

Around a thousand calls are made to the Eau Claire Police Department every year over the past ten years for what people described as "suspicious" things: like people, cars, or activities.  That shows that people do pay attention, but it also begs the question: how do you define suspicious behavior?

"Law enforcement is only one piece of the puzzle when we look at the safety of the community," says Eau Claire Police Department Officer Kyle Roder.

Sometimes preventing a crime boils down to one person noticing something out of place, and alerting authorities.

"I say all the time, we need the community to be our eyes and ears and that's really the case, because we only have a handful of officers that are actually out working at a time, and we have a large area to cover," Roder says.

And it isn't just in Eau Claire.

The Department of Homeland Security's "See Something, Say Something" campaign asks Americans to do just that.

In Boston, police had just conducted a security sweep less than 20 minutes before two bombs went off during the Boston Marathon. Authorities now believe someone planted a bag with the pressure cookers in it near the finish line, a similar scenario can be seen in the Homeland Security promotional video.

"Everybody has their own idea of what makes them feel comfortable and makes them feel safe, so for us to say "look for this, or look for that" that's difficult in each situation," says Roder.

There is one solution, and it involves vigilance.

"One of the simplest things you can do is get out and get to know your neighbors and your neighborhood. If you don't know your neighbors and you don't know your neighborhood, you don't know what's out of place," Roder says.

In this day and age with technology, there's more than one way to alert the police department. You can text tips to TIP411, there's even an iPhone app called Citizen Observer where you can leave tips.

But of course if it's an emergency, always dial 911.

Defining suspicious behavior is not easy, and police say it is somewhat subjective. But if you have any questions, let police determine whether or not the activity is suspicious.

You can also call the Eau Claire Police Department at their non-emergency number at (715) 839-4972.

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