Preparedness training at Dixie Tech teaches how to identify potential terrorists

Logan Sisam with Be Ready Business shares information during terrorism training at Dixie Applied Technology College, St. George, Utah, July 12, 2018 | Photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A state official provided training on how to recognize eight signs of terrorism Thursday at Dixie Applied Technology College to help prepare those concerned with community safety.

The training was run by Logan Sisam, who is with the Utah Department of Public Safety Division of Emergency Management. He is the manager of Be Ready Business, a branch of the Be Ready Utah program, which aims to prepare Utah citizens for any kind of emergency.

The event was part of the monthly Washington County Private Sector Preparedness trainings, which are held at noon on the second Thursday of every other month at Dixie Tech. The public is welcome to attend. 

Logan Sisam with Be Ready Business shares information during terrorism training at Dixie Applied Technology College, St. George, Utah, July 12, 2018 | Photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News

The training began with a definition of terrorism and what the motivations behind it are. Terrorists act out because they want to cause casualties, disrupt services, draw attention to a cause, disrupt an economy or cause psychological damage. That applies for both international and domestic terrorism.

It’s important to listen to your gut in these situations, Sisam said. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s not right until you have reported it. Eighty percent of terrorist attacks that were avoided were prevented because someone noticed something strange and spoke up.

Sisam used the example of the 2017 church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where a armed neighbor was able to stop the shooter.

“I’m not pushing any political ideals here, but I am pushing the importance of having trained individuals in the community that can help support and stop these kind of acts. Whether it be the neighbor, whether it be law enforcement, whoever it is.”

It is important to realize that just because someone is of a certain faith or dresses a certain way does not mean they’re a terrorist, Sisam said. However, there are eight proven signs of terrorism that are the same across all cultures.

At the training, Sisam showed a video explaining those eight signs:

  • Surveillance. If a person appears to be scoping out a location by taking pictures of security cameras, measuring distances, taking notes, observing through binoculars or recording security staff, it might be cause for concern.
  • Information gathering. If an individual is obtaining specific or unusual information that goes beyond natural curiosity, it could be a sign that they are planning an attack. 
  • Testing security. Someone who is looking for breaches or assessing the strengths and weaknesses of security could be suspicious. 
  • Funding. Another sign is when someone gains funds needed to finance a terrorist attack through unusual means such as soliciting friends, drug trafficking or suspicious looking transactions.
  • Acquiring supplies. If a person is collecting an unusual amount of materials like phones, timers, chemicals, fuels or even everyday items like fertilizer and beauty products, in large quantities they could be preparing to create a weapon.
  • Impersonation. If a person is using false documents, names, uniforms, badges or any other kind of identification it is a red flag.
  • Rehearsal. If an individual is seen rehearsing by doing dry runs, practicing using weapons or measuring emergency response time it could mean that they are practicing their attack to ensure that it is successful.
  • Deployment. If a person notices an individual transporting weapons, setting into an attack position or arranging their assets, it is important that it is reported to authorities and that they are not engaged.

Sisam said that any kind of behavior that seems suspicious is important to report. Even if there is a chance that there is nothing really going on.

Terrorism is something that can happen to anyone, anywhere, even in Southern Utah. Washington County Emergency Services Director Peter Kuhlmann, who was in attendance, encouraged those in the community to put time and distance between themselves and the situation that concerns them.

“Time and distance, they’re your only two friends in an emergency. If something’s not right, put time and distance between you and the situation.”

Reporting suspicious behavior to authorities could be the difference between many lives lost and many lives saved. Authorities would rather concerned citizens make a call that turns out to be nothing than to ignore the situation.

“It may be nothing, but it’s better for you to be cautious and report it,” Sisam said.

Email: mshoup@stgnews.com

Twitter:  @STGnews | @MikaylaShoup

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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