One of the most effective ways to help keep any community safe is to report suspicious activity before crime occurs.

That’s why the University of Central Florida has signed on to the national “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign, a public-awareness initiative launched in 2010 by the Department of Homeland Security under the direction of Secretary Janet Napolitano.

The program raises public awareness of indicators of terrorism and violent crime, and it emphasizes the importance of reporting any and all suspicious activity to the proper authorities.

Suspicious activity is characterized by observed behavior that reasonably suggests planning or committing criminal activity. Suspicious activity scenarios can include anything from people trying to access restricted areas to leaving bags behind in public places.

At UCF, the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign will include posters that will be featured across campus in addition to other public service announcements.

“This partnership between UCF and the Department of Homeland Security aids in continuing to keep the UCF campus safe,” said Jennifer Fleischman, plans and programs coordinator for the UCF Office of Emergency Management. “We look forward to continuing to build and enhance this program.”

When reporting suspicious activity to a law enforcement agency, it’s important to follow instructions given by the communications operator, said Sgt. Troy Williamson, community relations supervisor for UCF Police.

“It may seem like forever, but help is on the way, and the communications operator will stay on the line with you as long as it’s needed,” said Williamson. “Be a good witness, and be descriptive about the problem, situation and suspects. When first responders arrive, tell the operator that help is there.

“By applying these simple protocols, you can save a life.”

UCF partners in the campaign include the Police Department, the Office of Emergency Management, Student Government Association, Parking and Transportation Services, and Housing and Residence Life.

Suspicious activity should be reported to 1-855-FLA-SAFE (352-7233), Florida’s toll-free suspicious-activity hotline. In an emergency, always dial 911 first.

Additional information on the national “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign can be found here.