Washington Fusion Center Newsletters Detail Local Examples of Suspicious Activity Reporting

An image from the Washington State Fusion Center’s Fusion Liaison Officer newsletter encouraging readers to report suspicious behavior.

Public Intelligence

What kind of “suspicious” behaviors might put you in the sights of your local fusion center? A collection of Fusion Liaison Officer (FLO) reports from the Washington State Fusion Center (WSFC) obtained by police accountability activist Andrew Charles Hendricks via a public records request provide insight into the mechanics of suspicious activity reporting at the local level.  More than a dozen reports, which are minimally redacted, detail monthly reporting by the WSFC to its “statewide network of agency-selected law enforcement, fire-fighting and critical infrastructure agency representatives” that ensure “vital disciplines are incorporated into the fusion process by serving as the conduit through which homeland security and crime related information flows to the WSFC for assessment and analysis through the state homeland security Regional Intelligence Groups.”  According to the State of Washington, the “end state” of the FLO program “is to have FLOs throughout the state in all aspects of law enforcement, fire service and critical infrastructure” to facilitate the flow of information both to and from the state fusion center.

Though some of the reports contain information that seems to warrant further investigation, many of the reports often concern mundane activities such as photography or the discovery of abandoned items.  Here are some examples of “tips and leads” derived from suspicious activity reports sent to the fusion center that are provided in the WSFC FLO Newsletter:

August 1, 2012 Volume 2, Issue 14:

(U//FOUO) On 17 July 2012 at approximately 1140 hours, a man in a gold colored vehicle was taking photos just outside the fence line of a prominent energy sector facility. The subject appeared to be taking photos of all inbound and outbound traffic to the facility. When the man was asked what he was doing, he put the camera in the car and left the area. WSFC Tracking No. TL_2012-07-18T11:38:29 Status: Closed
(U//FOUO) On 26 July 2012 at 1059 hours, caller reported vandalism that occurred on a barge. Caller stated one of the door hatches was open and four padlocks were cutoff the door. An investigation was conducted on the barge, which was moored to a pier during the incident, and nothing was found missing. WSFC Tracking No. TL_2012-07-26T15:02:53 Status: Open
(U//FOUO) On 13 July 2012 at 1942 hours, a white male with dark hair parked along the east side of 2nd Avenue near Madison Street in Seattle, exited a black BMW sedan with WA license plates. The subject took pictures of the federal building lobby/courtyard and surrounding property. The subject then took pictures, of what appeared to be, an almost 360 degree panoramic view of the skyline.While taking the pictures, the subject and a Security Officer (SO) took notice of each other. When the subject noticed the SO, he immediately stopped taking pictures. He then loitered along the sidewalk for a short time before departing the area on foot at approximately 1950 hours. He then headed southbound on the east side of 2nd Avenue. He returned from the south on the east side of 2nd Avenue by foot at approximately 2140 hours, at which time he entered the vehicle and drove away southbound on 2nd Avenue. WSFC Tracking No. TL_2012-07-19T16:41:09 Status: Open

July 5, 2012 Volume 2, Issue 13:

(U//FOUO) [Region 1] On 11 June 2012 at 0200 hours, adjacent to a refinery regulated area, a security officer observed a vehicle, with two people inside, stopping to pick up two white males that appeared from a nearby ditch. A search of the area around the ditch was conducted and nothing was found. WSFC Tracking No. TL_2012-06-13T13:42:58 Status: Closed
(U//FOUO) [Region 6] On 26 June 2012 at approximately 1605 hours, an employee of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility was approached at the Bremerton Gate turnstiles by two males, both clean shaven, “dressed nicely,” and with thick foreign accents. The employee stated that one of the males asked if visitors were allowed inside the shipyard, and after she replied no, the two males then asked if she would let them come in with her, where she replied absolutely not. WSFC Tracking No. TL_2012-06-27T14:57:30 Status: Open
(U//FOUO) [Region 7] On 25 June 2012 at approximately 1145 hours, Chelan County PUD employees observed a male taking video of the Rocky Reach Hydro Project. His behavior did not appear to be consistent with usual tourist activity, as he was taking extensive video of the Project without visiting the museum, fish-viewing, park attractions, cafeteria, etc. On-duty security guards were unable to contact the male before he departed the visitor area. WSFC Tracking No. TL_2012-06-26T14:07:40 Status Closed

June 5, 2012 Volume 2, Issue 12:

(U//FOUO) [Region 4] On 22 May 2012 at approximately 0012 hours, an employee of a gasoline station, located in Vancouver, WA called 911 to report a suspicious device. Clark County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to find a small suspicious device located inside the store on the counter. Members of the Metro Bomb squad were called to investigate the device. As a precaution, the store was closed and the pumps were turned off. The device, determined to be a cell phone that had been damaged and pieced back together, was retrieved by the Metro Bomb squad and determined not to be explosive or hazardous. WSFC Tracking No. TL_2012-05-22T14:12:42 Status: Closed
(U//FOUO) [Region 5] On 30 May 2012 at 0909 hours, a vehicle was observed by Port of Tacoma Security, with an identified male taking photos of the Port of Tacoma Road overpass. The subject was contacted, where he claimed he was taking pictures for his blog. With the subjects permission, photos on the camera were viewed by security and three photos out of many were of the port. The subject was cooperative during contact and said he understood that taking pictures around the port might seem suspicious. WSFC Tracking No. TL_2012-05-30T13:31:37 Status: Closed

May 16, 2012 Volume 2, Issue 11:

(U//FOUO) [Region 6] On 3 May 2012 at 1330 hours, an abandoned case of luggage was discovered at the Washington State Ferries Colman Dock outside a phone booth in front of a restaurant. The Washington State Patrol was called and the case was searched. Contents included female items and a female Air Force uniform. WSFC Tracking No. TL_2012-05-14T10:41:19 Status Closed
(U//FOUO) [Region 1] On 15 May 2012, a refinery received a phone call from an identified individual who complained that he had ships anchoring off his property that were headed to the refinery. He also asked questions about ship traffic in the area. WSFC Tracking No. TL_2012-05-16T10:30:03 Status: Open

April 25, 2012 Volume 2, Issue 10:

(U//FOUO) [Region 6] On 21 April 2012 at 1520 hrs, a crew member on a dormant tug vessel discovered what appeared to be a pipe bomb (2 pipes taped together) in the Captain’s stateroom. The bomb squad responded and rendered the device safe exposing its contents as sand and not incendiary. WSFC Tracking No. TL_2012-04-22T11:13:45 Status: Closed
(U//FOUO) [Region 4] On 12 April 2012, at one of Pierce Transit’s major transit centers, an individual was seen by transit security officers taking pictures and asking police and security related questions (patrol times, locations of police and security personnel, etc…). He was observed taking photographs of a police officer while the officer was not aware. The subject was also walking up to transit security and asking to take photographs of them. Tacoma Police was notified and questioned the subject. The subject stated that his interest in public safety was for an online class project. The subject was asked to leave since he was on transit property and he complied. WSFC Tracking No. TL_2012-04-13T12:38:42 Status: Closed

April 11, 2012 Volume 2, Issue 9:

(U//FOUO) [Region 6] On 25 March 2012 at approximately 0835 hours, an unidentified subject was observed taking photos of the new Amtrak Equipment Maintenance building. The person observing the subject felt the activity was suspicious due to the length of time the subject spent in the area and his continual pacing while taking the photos. The officer also felt the incident suspicious due to the clothing worn by the subject and the apparent high dollar value of the camera used. WSFC Tracking No. TL_2012-04-02T14:06:04 Status: Open

March 20, 2012 Volume 2, Issue 8:

(U//FOUO) [Region 6] On 14 March 2012 at approximately 0130 hours, Seattle Police officers observed a subject running around the blocks containing the U.S. Courthouse, and the Seattle Police Department West Precinct, taking photos of the buildings. When stopped, the subject stated he was in Seattle attending a conference and was a citizen of the Slovak Republic. The subject claimed to be staying at a hotel approximately seven blocks from the buildings he was photographing, and could give no explanation as to why he was taking photos of the buildings. SFC Tracking No. TL_2012-03-15T14:05:02 Status: Open

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