The “see something, say something” campaign has been in New Yorkers’ heads for years, but Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said on Thursday, police need to do a better job of telling people exactly what to look for.
“You see the advertisements on the television all the time: you see the unattended bag in the subway station, or behavior in your neighborhood, people coming and going,” Bratton said, speaking at an unrelated forum at the Manhattan Institute. “When we say ‘see something, say something,’ well what is it that we want you to see? I think we’ve probably been deficient there and we’re probably going to have to get better at that.”
The campaign of vigilance comes a day after concerns over a new ISIS video showing Times Square emerged, renewing fears in the city of another attack. While Bratton has said there is no immediate threat to the city, he added it is always important for New Yorkers to help police monitor the goings on in their neighborhoods.
“The whole city is a soft target,” Bratton said. “We can’t be everywhere even with 35,000 cops. We cannot be everywhere, although we are extensively patrol all of our precincts all the time.
“The reality is that we’re a huge city,” he added. “We cannot protect everything all the time with the significance that we do with Times Square or here in the World Trade Center.”
Bratton said it is important for people to be aware of their surroundings. For the most part, New Yorkers felt well educated in what to look for. Some, however, wanted a bit more direction.
“I guess I try to watch out more than I usually do. I’m a little more wary,” said Quinn Wise, a 24-year-old actor, on Wednesday evening. “They always say if you see something say something, but I don’t know what to look for.”
Bronx resident Elvira Fleury, 45, said she often keeps an eye out for suitcases or bags left in the street. A few years ago she recalled seeing suspicious activity on the train and calling it in.
“It was someone taking pictures on the subway,” Fleury said, adding: “I thought it was weird.”
(With Zoya Teirstein and Felipe De La Hoz)