Public asked to be more vigilant during the holiday

Law enforcement views public awareness as a tool for spotting potential terrorist activity.

Local law enforcement agencies are asking residents to be more aware of suspicious activity on July 4 following a recent warning from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security about potential terrorist attacks during the holiday.

CBS reported The FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin Friday warning of potential attacks against law enforcement officers and the military during the July 4th holiday.

Former CIA deputy director Michael Morell said in an interview with CBS news that the bulletin from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security caused concern because of the large number of people who align themselves with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the organization’s “call to arms” for attacks against the terror group’s enemies during Ramadan.

The warning follows attacks including one on a beach resort in Tunisia that left 37 people dead and 36 wounded on Friday.

Any potential attack within the United States would likely be similar to the attacks last week —shooters hitting soft, civilian targets and large public gatherings for the holiday, according to Glen Duerr, a Cedarville University assistant professor of international studies. The purpose of this type of attack would be to hurt the country, boost ISIS’ profile and increase recruiting, he said.

“Chances are it could be low-level sophistication,” Duerr said. “Chances are it would be some kind of shooting, use of grenades as we’ve seen in some other attacks around the world. Maybe an improvised explosive device.”

Local agencies contacted for this report indicated they routinely increase the number of law enforcement officers working for large events such as July 4 celebrations, but have no plans to add any more officers than what they typically would for this type of event.

In Dayton, the Lights In Flight Festival downtown on Thursday could attract up to 60,000 people from around the region, according to city staff. Dayton is not planning to increase the number of police officers at the event.

“Command staff says no extraordinary security measures are planned for the city’s fireworks festival,” said Bryan Taulbee, a Dayton public affairs specialist.

Every community has sites that could be thought of as targets, said Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly. Most law enforcement agencies do not have officers, deputies or troopers to put them at every potential target, so these agencies need help from the public to report anything they believe is suspicious.

“It is incumbent upon every citizen, we’ve said this for years, to be vigilant,” he said. “If you see something, say something.”

In Greene County, local law enforcement agencies reported they were aware of the potential threat.

“We make sure that our officers are aware of the fact that there is that threat,” Xenia Police Chief Randy Person said. “Anytime you have a large crowd, we assume that there is that possibility. We ask our guys to be more alert.”

The City of Beavercreek takes extra precautions during large events similar to its July 4 parade and fireworks at Rotary Park, said Beavercreek Police Chief Dennis Evers.

“I took it (the federal warning) as a reminder,” he said. “Gatherings of large groups can be subject to being targeted by those elements that may want to make a statement. So, we plan and do our due diligence as we would any large event.”

Evers said he hopes that the alert will heighten the public’s awareness.

“We hope that the citizens, if they see something suspicious, that they’re going to bring it to our attention and hopefully help avoid something like what happened at the Boston Marathon or something of that nature.

Staff writer John Bidell contributed to this report.

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