Message from Police Chief Cathy Lanier – “I am asking for your help in reporting suspicious activities.”

Chief Cathy Lanier
Chief Cathy Lanier

Beware folks who like to grill out a lot…

From MPD:


Residents, some of you may be aware from recent media coverage that Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula recently released another one of their ideological magazines, titled Inspire. Inspire contains articles that try to radicalize persons by illuminating and martyrizing deceased terrorists for their bravery and ideologies. In addition, Inspire specifically tries to solicit those who live in the US, and other countries, to take up the fight against the West. The online magazine specifically gives instructions on how to build weapons and use them on their enemies. The recently publicized issue speaks to building explosive devices using commonly available household items.

As we know, Washington D.C. remains an attractive target for those wanting to hurt our Nation. While I assure you that we always work closely with our Federal partners to ensure that these terrorist will not be successful, and we are confident in our approach and methods of deterrence, we could use your eyes and ears as well. You may not realize it, but the general public is largely responsible for providing information that allows law enforcement to disrupt attacks in the planning and operational phases. As such, and as with crime prevention, I am asking for your help in reporting suspicious activities. Some examples of this could include individuals purchasing multiple propane tanks, certain items that are out of season, large sums of peroxide, or anything else that would lead you to question why someone would need what they are purchasing or why they are involved in actions that you feel are strange.

If you see anything that doesn’t appear to be right, please call 911 if it is in progress. If upon reflection you want to report activities, that previously occurred, and don’t seem to add up, call 202-727-9099 to make the report. Any and all information is relevant and can help us in preventing those bent on causing chaos in our society. If You See Something, Say SomethingTM.

Cathy L. Lanier
Chief of Police”

47 Comment

  • Geez – now I want to go home and crawl under the covers. Thanks, Cathy….

  • How about the police devote the resources that went into writing this to responding to and dealing with threats that have more than a 0.000000000000000001% chance of harming anyone, like the multiple armed robberies that happen in DC everyday?

    • take it easy. timely reminders like this can really make a difference. besides, not a lot of resources go into writing a PSA bro, take a chill pill.

    • Though judging by the poor writing style and lack of coherence in the above letter, I don’t think too much time was wasted on this. Still, the marauding DC teenagers with guns scare me a lot more than something that some nut on the other side of the world dreamed up and wrote, and only grows more likely to cause harm by publicizing like this.

    • Do I really need to point out that risk = probability of harm X magnitude of harm? So, yeah, every day crime deserves attention because it has a high probability. That doesn’t mean that a low likelihood threat that could have a high magnitude of harm deserves no attention. Were you hear on 9/11? You do know that terrorism is real, right?

      • Yes. That is exactly my point. Probability of a person getting robbed or killed by gun-toting kids is many hundreds of times higher than being killed by terrorists. Besides, the main impact of hyping these terrorist threats is to encourage copycat people to act on them, plus causing a huge waste of resources by encouraging people to call in “suspicious packages” that are obviously not a real threat, shutting down major parts of the city. While it was obviously a tragedy, our response to 9/11 has been far more harmful than the actual event.

        • Uh, I think you missed the “magnitude of harm” part.

        • I think you missed the math part on this. Likely hood of street crime from young thug is higher but if a terrorist makes his way into this city and does what they want to do the “magnitude” is much greater then one thug with one gun robbing one person. Remember what happened almost 13yrs ago on September 11th? Now compare that to 100 armed robberies going on in the city at the exact same time. See doesn’t even compare.

  • So how does this edition of Inspire differ from the prior versions? Way to instill fear among the public 2 weeks before the primaries. Here’s to hoping D.C gets a competent mayor who can bring in a competent police chief.

    • While I certainly understand the sentiment, perhaps you shouldn’t merely discount this as politically motivated? I would expect that the DC Police Chief as access to threat information that is not made public.

    • Give me a break. Chief Lanier has been incredible for this city. Homicides feel from 181 in 2007 to 104 in 2012. And it has little to do with Gray – all he has done right is keep her on.

      Also, the Chief gets a 5-year contract, which Gray renewed in 2012. So like it or not, Chief Lanier is here until at least 2017. She also has a really inspiring personal story. You should check it out before you continue to mindlessly send ad hominem barbs her way anonymously.

      • While I’m not anti-Lanier, I wouldn’t give her total credit for the huge drop in homicides. Ever changing demographics as well as a national trend of violent crime dropping play a big role too. Calling her incredible seems a little much IMO.

        And yes, I’m aware of her personal story…

    • One thing we American are notorious for is forgetting things. It has been nearly 13 yrs since 9/11 and we need a gentle reminder once in a while to keep us on our toes. This shows that she is a competent police chief cause she hasn’t forgotten but you obviously have. If you weren’t in this city at the time you don’t get it. So try talking to someone who lived in this city at the time it happen and you will find that they appreciate this PSA and reminder.

  • I am asking for Lanier’s help in dealing with the everyday break-ins, assaults, drug dealing and intimidation. They are the most incompetent police force in the nation. I hope Gray loses and we see a wholesale change in the police force. They are using outdated techniques and are lacking in work ethic. Truth.

    • As a former 20+ year resident of Oakland, California, I can assure you that MPD is a model police force compared to some other cities in this country.

      If the Occupy Oakland debacle from a couple years ago isn’t enough evidence for you, I encourage you to google “OPD Rough Riders” or “number of Oakland homocides”.

      I’m also guessing that our neighbors to the north in Baltimore could make a similar claim…

    • Dear uninformed sir,
      Please take a ride with some of the officers east of the river and see how easy this job is. I have lived all over the world and seen how the other cities fare. If you think MPD is so bad, them educate yourself before bashing. Disclaimer, I work in law enforcement but not for MPD.

    • I have lived in a lot of city in this country and I don’t find MPD to be incompetent at all. I do hope Gray loses but I hope the next mayor is smart enough to keep Lanier. Now could you explain some of the reasons you think they are so lacking? It has been my experience in this city that when neighbors complain about the police a lot of the time the neighbors aren’t doing their part. Like calling 911, keeping their property well lit. Telling the police who the problem people are in the neighborhood and not taking on the notion of its not my business. So often people wish the police were running some futuristic “minority report” pre-crime system without realizing that most of the time the police can only show up after the fact. If your not reporting the pre-crime things like suspicious folks looking in cars, people in your neighbors yard that have no business there and other things like that then your not doing your part.

  • If Ms. Cathy’s pearly whites can’t defeat the terrorists…no one can.

  • I saw a suspicious activity. Ms. Lanier trying to be glamorous and pretty in the new edition of Elle Magazine. She didn’t fool me. She’s still the tough ass cop who likes to arrest people.

  • Fire Cathy Lanier.

  • Hey, Chief. Let’s see your officers respond to the suspicious (and obviously criminal) behavior we DO report. Then we’ll talk about doing more, ok?
    Seriously, how many times has a VICTIM of crime decided not to report, figuring that the police wouldn’t respond, or if they did respond, it would be to harass said victim? You think we want to deal with them when we’re merely suspicious?? Pffffft.

    • “Seriously, how many times has a VICTIM of crime decided not to report, figuring that the police wouldn’t respond, or if they did respond, it would be to harass said victim?”
      I don’t know. Can you tell us?

      • Read the blogs for yourself. I see stories of ill-deeds that didn’t get reported pretty much daily. Package theft, broken car windows, vandalism… seems like people only report these things if they need documentation for the insurance. NO ONE has any hope that MPD will actually DO something about it.

        • Thank you. I didn’t think you could.

        • See that is just it, every one assumes they won’t do anything and then wonder where they are when something bad does happen. How are they suppose to know there is a problem if your not reporting things. Live on once bad block on the Hill and no one was calling the police about obvious drug dealer who was intimidating the mostly women owners on the block. Well guess what, no one called 911 so the police didn’t know there was an issue on the block cause monthly reports showed no calls to the block. No calls = no problems. Guess what happened when people did little things like turning the porch lights on and calling 911 for all incidents? That block now is a hot place to live on Capitol Hill and the price of homes has more than doubled. You want crime off the streets, try reporting once in a while and stop complaining about the police.

      • Exactly. I made the mistake of reporting crime once and will never do it again. It’s not worth being abused by the police for.

  • I reported a suspicious unattended duffel bag headed downtown during rush hour a few months ago and nothing. Got off a L’efante 6 stops later with nobody investigating. Worse yet when I checked back with Metro it was reported searched at Chinatown. They didn’t and simply cleared the report. Yes, I know it is Metro’s jurisdiction but I don’t feel very safe anymore since then.

    • That’s your personal account. I saw an unattended bag once and a woman rushed off the train to report it. By the time we arrived to the next station 2 men boarded the train and inspected the bag.

      • Your point?? Yes, that is my personal account and 1 out of 2 isn’t a good ratio. The response I “personally” witnessed was unacceptable.

        • There is also the chance that you may have been the 2nd or 3rd or more call about the bag and it had been check a while before so they just cleared the report. They don’t have to remove the bag and the bomb squad doesn’t have to be called every time. You actually don’t know what the circumstances were and just because they didn’t respond to “your” call in the manner you would have like to have seen (Bruce Willis style) doesn’t make them incompetent.

  • Didnt even address that murders are up 2x fold since this time last year…..

  • About 3 months ago some drunk and unruly guy tried breaking into my apartment building. He kept trying to break open the door and kept calling my phone (connected to my buzzer). He continued to do this from 1:30 AM to 5:30 AM. I called 911 THREE times asking for help. The police finally showed up, talked to the guy, then left. THE GUY THEN PROCEEDED TO CONTINUE TRYING TO BREAK IN AND CALLMY BUZZER.

    Last month, I called 911 to report that I had found a pair of car keys while walking down the street. They had a police officer at my house in 15 MINUTES. For real. And then the officer treated me as though I had stolen the keys.

    What’s up w/these priorities?!

    • Those are not priorities! If there’s issues of shootings and armed robberies going on around the city what makes you think lost keys and disorderly’s are priority’s….really!

    • thats horrible. this is something that you should complain to your councilperson about. that should not be accepted.

      also, in addition to trying to call 911 if this ever happens again, call your neighbors and your friends.

    • Seriously did you read what you posted. Drunk guy was waking you up and you wanted the police to put something more serious on the back burner for your sleep? What are your priorities?

      • I don’t understand why the OP didn’t turn off his/her phone (or take it off the hook), but this wasn’t just a matter of a drunk guy preventing him/her from sleeping — this was a belligerent-sounding the drunk guy was trying to break into the building.

  • They mean well, but if you ask amateurs for help in with spotting would-be terrorists, you’re going to get flooded with very, very low-quality amateur help. How many resources does DCPD have to sift through all that garbage?

  • I saw hammer boy with the hammer before he killed. On the 64 bus. I was going to report it but then forgot. The chief is right, if you see something, say something!

  • I think many of you are being naive about what a terrorist attack would do to this city. Yes, we have everyday crime that needs to be addressed, but getting pissed off at this PSA is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Just imagine a bomb on metro, metrobus, in a museum or other public place would do. In addition to the potential loss of life, the psychological and economic devastation that it would wreak on the city would blow your effing mind. Like living here? Then just do like the nice woman says and try to be part of the solution, not some complainer.

    • +1. I don’t think the issuing of this PSA took a huge amount of time away from other stuff that MPD is doing. (Whether MPD is actually doing a good job with its other responsibilities is another matter.) A PSA like this seems like a “can’t hurt, might help” kind of thing — wasn’t there some bombing plot that was foiled in part because a store manager reported someone buying a suspicious amount of fertilizer?
      I don’t think this is a big huge deal. People are basically being asked/reminded to pay attention to their gut instincts.

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