Eagle Eyes program provides tool to detect, report criminal activity

  • Published
  • By Holly L. Birchfield
  • 78th ABW/PA
Being aware of one's surroundings is something law enforcement officers have advised people to do for years. In the last six years, it has become of even greater importance.

Eagle Eyes, an Air Force-wide program that came aboard shortly after 9/11, relies on the eyes and ears of people to detect suspicious activity.

Susan Underwood, a special agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigation, Detachment 105 at Robins, said the program reaches beyond the base's gates.

"Eagle Eyes is an Air Force-wide program that is basically a neighborhood watch, but with a global reach," she said. "This program enables not only military members on this base, but the surrounding local community civilians to get involved. If they see any suspicious activity, they can report it. So, this program basically says, 'That is what you need to look out for."

Special Agent Underwood said Eagle Eyes' main intent is to prevent terrorism, but it can also be used to report drug activity and other criminal incidents.

"If you see anybody surveying the base, whether it is taking pictures or note taking, or if you get e-mails, faxes, or phone calls asking specific questions about the base, you should report it," she said.

"People should be watchful of outsiders in their work spaces as well," Special Agent Underwood said.

"Everyone in the workplace knows who is supposed to be there and who isn't," she said. "So if you see someone going around trying to hop on people's computers, getting things out of the garbage, you need to report it."

Making such a report is as simple as picking up the telephone. Day or night, anyone can call 926-3937 to report suspicious activity.

"Once you report it to us, we'll take any necessary action, whether it's reporting it to local law enforcement, handling it or opening an investigation," Special Agent Underwood said.

Alec Wildes, a special agent in the AFOSI Det. 105, said people are the program's most important resource.

"We just encourage and urge people to report," he said. "A majority of crimes are solved through witnesses, through the people. Like a neighborhood watch, Eagle Eyes is built on that same platform. By urging people to watch out for one another and watch out for more things that are out of place, that's how law enforcement learns of it. Without people calling police, calling law enforcement, and reporting criminal activity and suspicious incidents, then the police may not know about it."

"Reporting incidents sooner rather than later can greatly impact the outcome of a situation," Special Agent Wildes said.

"With any incident, whether it's criminal activity or possible terrorist activity, promptness is very important," he said. "We need to know immediately. Information can become stale, and with stale information, it's hard to run an investigation or to follow-up on something. So the sooner we know about it, the sooner we can follow-up on it."

While individuals may report anonymously, Agent Wildes said it's best that people identify themselves and provide their contact information in case AFOSI agents or law enforcement needs to get more details.

"Eagle Eyes is a program that is built off of people, and not just the people on this base, but people in the community," Special Agent Wildes said. "We try to provide pamphlets to the local community, such as the police and the sheriff's office, hotels and rental car agencies, because we have people coming in TDY (temporary duty) who may be housed off base. So we try to reach outside the gate as well."

AFOSI agents also provide briefings to base units and organizations at the work area's request.