Play an Active Role in Arlington County's Safety

Published on September 25, 2018

ARLINGTON, Va. — National Preparedness Month, recognized each September, aims to educate the public on ways to prepare for all types of emergencies, including potential terrorist attacks. While danger can arise unexpectedly, there are proactive steps the public can take to help ensure our community remains strong. Security is a shared responsibility so if you see something out of place, say something by reporting suspicious activity to law enforcement. Arlington County is safer when everyone is engaged and alert.
The See Something, Say Something® Campaign

"If you See Something, Say Something®" is a national anti-terrorism campaign, launched by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, that raises public awareness of the indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime, as well as the importance of reporting suspicious activity to law enforcement.
Police Readiness

The Arlington County Police Department's Homeland Security Section leads efforts within the agency to detect, prevent and investigate terrorist activities that may affect Arlington County and the National Capital Region. The Section collaborates with other law enforcement and intelligence agencies, sharing and compiling intelligence data and provides training and safety awareness to police personnel and the community. The Section also assigns officers to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (National Capital Region), so that Arlington remains informed and connected with our regional law enforcement partners.

More: Learn about Arlington County's enhanced public safety response capabilities.
The Critical Role Citizens Play

Efforts to address crime and threats in our community are most effective when they involve strong collaboration and partnerships between law enforcement and the communities and citizens they serve. That's why, even though there are no known threats to Arlington County, we encourage the public to remain aware of your surroundings. While we share everyday moments with our neighbors, family, coworkers, and friends, we all have routines that are uniquely our own making you most well-acquainted with what activities may be suspicious in your neighborhood and communities.

While remaining aware of your surroundings should be part of our everyday, there are areas where residents are encouraged to remain particularly vigilant. These areas include special events or activities in which large crowds of people typically gather such as shopping centers, restaurant districts, religious services, and public transportation hubs to name a few.
Identifying Suspicious Activity

Factors such as race, ethnicity, national origin, or religious affiliation alone are not suspicious. The public should report only suspicious behavior and situations rather than beliefs, thoughts, ideas, expressions, associations, or speech unrelated to terrorism or other criminal activity. Suspicious person(s), items, vehicles, and unattended packages should be reported to the police immediately.

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Factors to Consider

Suspicious Packages


  • Presence of protruding wires, unknown powders or other substances on the package or leaking from it

  • If at your residence/place of business, were you expecting any deliveries?

  • Is the writing messy, written in unusual method (for example crayon)

  • Is the package located in an area that could cause harm (for example, is the package located by a busy Metro entrance vs. in the middle of the woods)?

  • Did you or anyone around see who left the package? If so, did it appear they intentionally left it or were just distracted and forgot it?

  • When in doubt — report it to police!


  • Don't touch or manipulate the package to see what is inside

  • Maintain a safe distance from the package

  • Contact police who have a specially trained explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) K9 program and work collectively with the Fire Department's Bomb Squad.

Suspicious Persons

  • People who are not dressed for the weather (heavy jackets during summer)

  • Profuse sweating, pacing, obvious nervousness

  • Photographing security measures/personnel

  • Probing of security measures (trying locked doors, access to restricted areas) or asking specific questions about security

Reporting Suspicious Activity in Arlington County

Report suspicious activity by contacting the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222 or 9-1-1 in an emergency. Reports can also be filed online using the Homeland Security Tip Form.
Remain Engaged

Register for Arlington Alert to receive emergency notifications from Arlington County Government.