Police chiefs back local terror watch

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After the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration proposed enlisting postal carriers, gas and electric company workers, telephone repairmen and other workers with access to private homes in a program to report suspicious behavior to the FBI. Privacy advocates condemned this as too intrusive, and the plan was dropped.

Chief Bratton and LAPD Cmdr. Joan McNamara, who developed iWATCH, said privacy and civil-liberties protections are built into the program.

“We’re not asking people to spy on their neighbors,” Cmdr. McNamara said.

If someone reports something based on race or ethnicity, the police will not accept the report, and someone will explain to the caller why that is not an indicator of suspicious behavior, Cmdr. McNamara said.

The iWATCH program isn’t the first to list possible indicators of suspicious behavior. Some cities, such as Miami, have offered a public list of seven signs of possible terrorism. Federal agencies also have put out various lists over the years.

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