The Slogan “If You See Something, Say Something” As Relevant Today As It Was After September 11, 2001

The simple phrase “If You See Something, Say Something” – coined a day after the September 11, 2001, terroristic attacks – is as meaningful today as it was 18 years ago.

Image Attribution: U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Image Attribution: U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Wednesday, September 25, is National If You See Something, Say Something Awareness Day. Whether you are at home, school, work, the grocery store, on a train or plane, the phrase is a universal reminder to stay alert for suspicious activity or threats, either explicit or implied.

It’s a motto that Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon has incorporated into agency mandates and initiatives, including protection of the Morris County Courthouse Complex, the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team (SERT), and his Responsible School Violence Prevention, Preparation and Protection (RSVP-3) program.

Sheriff Gannon adds his own ending to the slogan: “If You See Something, Say Something, Do Something.”

The Morris County Sheriff’s Office also has significant ties and partnerships with other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies through which intelligence is shared.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon

“Ordinary, law-abiding people can play a significant role in thwarting violence by paying attention to their surroundings, trusting their instincts, and reporting activity, including Internet activity, that raises alarms in their minds. Don’t expect someone else to sound the alarm,” Sheriff Gannon said.

The six-word phrase was the 2001 idea of a Manhattan advertising agency chairman for use by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The security awareness slogan quickly caught on, and was licensed to the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for use in a national security campaign.

In July 2010, DHS launched the campaign in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative (NSI), with the goal of training state and local law enforcement to recognize behaviors and indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime.

The DHS website further explains the national campaign and particular actions and behavior that can be considered suspicious, including individuals or groups who make threats against people or institutions, individuals who have an unusual interest in videotaping or photographing infrastructure and public or government buildings, weapons collection, and testing a facility’s security or IT systems to gauge weaknesses.

For more information on National “If You See Something, Say Something” Awareness Day, go to