Knoxville police explain importance of reporting suspicious activity


KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Action from citizens in the most recent bombings in New York and New Jersey may have helped prevent more explosions.

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East Tennessee law enforcement officers say they rely on tips from the public to help protect and serve. They say if you feel like something is off, you may be right. Report any suspicious activity.

“It seems that it could happen at any time, and it really could hypothetically, but it’s such a very rare event to happen that the chances are very low,” said Krista Wiegand, an associate political science professor at UT.

She specializes in global security and says over all there has been a change in terrorism.

“What we’re seeing in the U.S. is a lot more home grown radicalization,” said Wiegand.

She says many terrorists are being radicalized through the internet, resulting in a rise in smaller individual attacks. UT political science professor Brandon Prins says some attacks in the U.S. may be a result of the Islamic State reacting to losing ground in Syria and Iraq still trying to show it has power.

“These attacks may be, in fact, be a product of the Islamic State’s weakness,” said Prins.

He says good intelligence is needed to try and prevent more attacks. Knoxville Police Department Lt. Tammy DeBow says law enforcement needs the public to always report suspicious activity.

“Anything out of the norm, somebody is in a mall and they walk into the center of a big crowd and they have a back pack and they just nonchalantly drop it on the ground and walk away for no reason. Does that make sense to you?” said Lt. DeBow.

Knox County Sheriff Administration Chief Lee Tramel says even a post online that is extreme and causes concern needs to be reported.

“After the attack is over, after the smoke has cleared, you always see people, ‘Well I knew something was wrong. He didn’t sound right.’ There is always a trigger that someone had known but didn’t report,” said Tramel.

Tramel says law enforcement can’t be successful without the community’s support. During your daily travels look around and report anything suspicious. Law enforcement says when you report suspicious activity be prepared to answer when and where it happened along with if the person left the scene and if you saw the vehicle they left in.

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