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Homeland Security

Dams Sector Suspicious Activity Reporting

What Owners and Operators Can Do

Suspicious incidents may actually constitute pre-operational activities and should be reported immediately.

  • Maintain awareness of your environment
  • Identify behaviors that are out of the ordinary
  • Report the activity with as much detail as possible

Suspicious activities are irregular or highly unusual behaviors that may potentially be associated with pre-operational/preparatory surveillance, operational activities exploring or targeting a sector facility or system, or any possible violation of law or regulation that could compromise a sector facility or system in a manner that could cause an incident jeopardizing life or property.

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Types of Suspicious Activities

The SAR online tool provides members of the Dams Sector ISE with the capability to report various types of suspicious activities, including:

  • Bomb Threat - Any threat of a bomb attack on property or adjacent properties that may have an impact on asset(s).
  • Elicitation - Requests for information via telephone, email, or mail pertaining to technical data on the asset or its security system, or information on hours worked and the number of personnel on duty during any given hour.
  • Overflight - Airborne vehicles (small planes, helicopters, remotely controlled aircraft) that appear to be using a crossing pattern in order to survey the property or asset.
  • Surveillance - Person(s) intending to gather information about the asset or its operations or protective measures through photography, videotaping, sketching, or use of vision-enhancing devices (e.g., binoculars).
  • Test of Security - Testing of security systems, responses and reaction times at a facility.This also includes any attempts to test or penetrate physical security barriers or procedures, attempts to acquire information or uniforms, badges, passes, or other security-related documents.
  • Weapons Discovery - Discovery of weapons or a weapons cache on the property or adjacent properties that have an impact on the asset(s).

Examples of Suspicious Activities

  • Showing unusual interest in a facility (e.g., observing through binoculars, taking notes, photography, drawing maps, or drawing structures of the facility
  • Persons parking, standing, or loitering in the same area on multiple days with no reasonable explanation for doing so
  • Persons not associated with the facility showing an increased interest in the surrounding area

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About the Dams Sector Suspicious Activity Reporting Tool

The Dams Sector, through guidance provided by the Dams Sector Information Sharing Workgroup, has developed an online tool within the Homeland Security Information Network-Critical Sectors (HSIN-CS) Dams Portal to provide members of the Dams Sector information sharing environment (ISE) with a mechanism to submit Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR). The online tool provides members of the Dams Sector ISE with the capability to report and retrieve information pertaining to suspicious activities that may potentially be associated with pre-incident surveillance, activities exploring or targeting a critical infrastructure facility or system, or any possible violation of law or regulation that could compromise the facility or system and potentially jeopardize life or property.

The online tool is not intended to replace existing agency or organization reporting mechanisms, but rather enhance them by providing a broader, horizontal approach to reporting suspicious activities. Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) should be reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other appropriate law enforcement authorities. This online tool provides an extra opportunity for real-time situational awareness across the sector. Often, agency or organizational suspicious activity reporting is kept internal, thus restricting situational awareness and precluding sharing across the sector.

The SAR tool within the HSIN-CS Dams Portal offers members of the Dams Sector ISE the opportunity to better understand the implications of incidents that occur throughout the nation by examining reports from a broad range of sector stakeholders and subsequently determine any need to implement protective measures. In addition to enhancing situational awareness among Dams Sector partners, the SAR information is also provided to intelligence components from various government agencies for further analysis.

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Using the SAR Online Tool

The Dams Sector SAR online tool is available via the HSIN-CS Dams Portal. Upon accessing the entry form, the system will prompt the user to provide information pertaining to the suspicious activity observed. The entry form is divided into two main components: background and subject. The background section allows users to input information pertaining to the facility, type of suspicious activities, and date/time of incident. The subject section provides users with the capability to input information pertaining to generic descriptions of the suspicious activity. Although the information may be generic, it should contain sufficient data to conduct an analysis, should it be necessary. It is imperative that the individual submitting the information fully describe the suspicious activity and fill out the form as completely as possible. Supporting documentation may also be attached to the report, should the user deem it necessary in order for the reader to better understand the incident.

To ensure that core members of the Dams Sector ISE are fully apprised of any information relating to suspicious activities, e-mails are automatically sent to a pre-determined list of Government Coordinating Council (GCC) and Sector Coordinating Council (SCC) members to inform them that suspicious activities have been reported. The e-mails request that GCC and SCC members log onto the HSIN-CS Dams Portal in order to view the SAR.

Reports submitted via the online tool will be available to appropriate stakeholders across the sector for further analysis and shared with the Department's National Infrastructure Coordinating Center.

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Additional Information

For additional information, please contact the Dams Sector-Specific Agency at

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Last Published Date: June 18, 2014
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