When and How to Report Suspicious Activity

Often, after a tragedy, people recall thinking something was ‘strange’ about an individual leading up to the event. In situations like these, it’s crucial for you to know what your options are for reporting a situation that doesn’t seem quite right.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) developed the "If You See Something, Say Something™" initiative to help people know their options. According to the DHS, every person—whether in a big city, on a rural farm, or in the suburbs—knows best what should and shouldn’t be part of their everyday experiences.


Normal or Suspicious Activity?

Alert citizens play a critical role in keeping a ministry safe. It’s important to trust your instincts. How would you respond to the following scenarios?

  • A couple in your congregation undergoes counseling. During a tense session, one spouse threatens to “get even.”
  • A former member posts hostile comments about your ministry on social media.
  • A man enters your sanctuary carrying a duffel bag and avoids eye contact with an usher.
  • A member shares with your pastor that his child’s words or actions have turned violent.


Some of these scenarios could be innocent, but in the moment, it can be difficult to decide whether an activity is routine or truly out of the ordinary. In some cases, it’s better to leave it up to law enforcement to determine if actions like these warrant further investigation.


How a Church Community Responds

If you feel that suspicious activity warrants a call to the authorities, the DHS urges you to pay attention to details, including:

  • Who or what you saw;

  • When you saw it;

  • Where it occurred; and

  • Why it's suspicious.

This will allow the authorities to understand the situation and how to help you.

It’s better to be cautious and call the proper authorities when you or people in your ministry feel unsafe. Remember: only you know what you should and should not see or experience in your everyday ministry context.

For more information, visit https://www.dhs.gov/see-something-say-something