The Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative (NSI) is one of many tools used by law enforcement to help prevent terrorism and terrorism-related activity (see Figure 1). In addition to state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) agencies and federal law enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) relies on communities to report suspicious behaviors. While much is known about the actual SAR process, 1 less is known about an essential segment of the community: family members. Family members of violent extremists (VE) play an important role in countering violent extremism (CVE), whether by supporting disengagement and deradicalization or by alerting authorities when concerned for the safety of their loved one(s) and/or others. However, due to issues like mistrust and fear of law enforcement, or a general lack of understanding about SAR and the investigative process, family members may be reluctant to report suspicious behaviors. This fundamental issue reduces the effectiveness of any CVE program or policy. It thus warrants an investigation into how law enforcement agencies can better support and promote family members reporting of suspicious activity. This report seeks to determine whether the DHS and the NSI collaborative have protocols to address family engagement in CVE and report suspicious behaviors. The following two research questions will guide the remainder of this report: (1) How do SAR trainings address family engagement in suspicious reporting? (2) How do members of the NSI collaborative perceive family engagement in the SAR process (i.e., report suspicious behavior)?
Sporer, Karyn, Pete Simi, Matthew DeMichele, Steven Windisch, Amy Aghajanian, Nathan Dufour, and Corinne Tam. 2021. “Barriers to Family Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) of Mobilization Behaviors and Pre-Operational Planning.” National Counterterrorism, Innovation, Technology, and Education Center (NCITE).