Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings: 'Get to know your neighbors'

- Because of a rise in terror attacks around the world, and in light of the recent shootings in San Bernardino, California, law enforcement agencies in Central Florida are reminding people that, if you see anything suspicious, you need to say something to authorities.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina and Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings held a joint news conference late Friday afternoon talking about what precautions local law enforcement is doing to keep the public safe.  Sheriff Demings said the FBI gave him a security briefing Friday, along with other police agencies across the country.  He saids it's time for all of us to pay attention to what we see around us. 

"Get to know your neighbors," said Sheriff Demings.  "We've got to go back to some 'old school' ways of thinking and behaving as social individuals. Unfortunately, in most of our neighborhoods, we don't really know our neighbors."  Demings asked, "How will you be able to determine if something is suspicious or not if you don't know your neighbors?"

The sheriff said we should pay close attention if groups are coming and going from a home late at night, or if they are using the cover of darkness to move large boxes or packages.  "That is the type of suspicious behavior that I'm referencing."  He added, we should report any social media postings that praise terrorist groups or focus on anti-government sentiments.

Orlando Police want you to keep an eye out for suspicious people or activities at work.  Deputy Chief Robert Pigman says the police force is fully staffed and equipped and vigilante at all times.  Pigman added, "We are able through our training and through our experience, to handle any situation that we may encounter."

Long before two people killed 14 and wounded more than 20 in San Bernardino this week, or teams of armed terrorists acted in concert last month in Paris, the OPD had been training all of its officers to respond in the event of an active shooter, training the agency has conducted twice a year since 2000.

Two police officers are on the beat now at the Longwood SunRail Station, thanks to a homeland security grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.    Corporal Ryan Short said two officers are providing a police presence during SunRail operating hours, protecting the platforms and parking lot, and patrolling areas near the rail station. Corporal Short said, "We want to take the steps to make sure they are safe on the train and while they are here visiting our city."

 

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