Safety campaign spreads to Major League Baseball

Safety campaign spreads to Major League Baseball

Safety campaign spreads to Major League Baseball
NEW YORK -- Traditional phrases at Major League Baseball games include such standards as "Take Me Out To The Ball Game," "Here is your starting lineup" and "Play Ball." Now you can add another to the ballpark lexicon: "If You See Something, Say Something."

The safety campaign phrase that has become a fact of life in America's largest city is now officially expanding to all of the country's major sports venues. Janet Napolitano, secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, announced the joint effort at a Times Square news conference Monday morning. She was joined by New York police commissioner Ray Kelly, as well as government officials and executives from major pro and amateur sports, including Bill Bordley, MLB vice president of security and facility management.

"Everyone has a role to play in security," Napolitano said. "It's keeping our communities safe, it's keeping our neighbors safe. That includes the millions of sports fans around the United States. ... Reports from individual citizens have time and time again helped us prevent danger. For example, we saw an example of this just this past Friday in New York City."

Napolitano emphasized the effort to join with other organizations to strengthen the safety movement.

"We have expanded the 'If You See Something, Say Something' campaign over the past couple of years, in cities, states, universities, business, transportation, hospitality -- you name it, we have been partnering," Napolitano said. "... In keeping with these efforts, we are partnering with the sports leagues here today to expand our 'If You See Something, Say Something' campaign to reach new audiences at sporting events and stadiums. It's a simple and effective way to raise public awareness and understanding -- looking for things that just don't seem normal, that seem out of the ordinary, to emphasize the importance of reporting those things to someone in authority.

"This unprecedented joint effort to produce an announcement I think will help us literally reach millions of sports fans throughout the year in stadiums and arenas across the country. We all want to do our part to keep the nation safe. Everyone has a role to play."

Napolitano had appeared on the field at Citi Field a day earlier to help introduce one of the new public service announcements at the start of the Mets-Astros game. She again introduced a PSA during the news conference, and explained that the use of game officials rather than marquee players is intended to show citizens how they can follow suit.

"The whole theme of this advertising campaign is to use referees, umpires and those who are making the calls in major league sports games, and having to watch and see and say all the time," Napolitano said. "We had just wonderful participation across the athletic world in this. It's very exciting, because if you go to a baseball game, a soccer game, a football game, a basketball game, a hockey game, it's the umps, the referees who are making the calls. They have to watch all the time, they have to be aware of the entire situation. We are asking members of the public who are attending sporting events, if you see something, say something, and be situationally aware of your surroundings."

The "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign became a gradual initiative in the immediate years following the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Since '02, Kelly said, the NYC Safe hotlines received almost 19,000 calls or leads, and many of them are referred to the Joint Terrorism Task Force. He also said that in the past decade, there have been "14 plots against New York City, including plots against the subway system, the Brooklyn Bridge [and] iconic locations such as the City Hall building."

"With the FBI, NYPD, we have over 120 investigators assigned there," Kelly said. "Others are investigated by our intelligence division. Judging by the level of participation and familiarity, I think you have to declare that this campaign is a success. We certainly want to keep it on the public's radar screen.

"I want to commend Secretary Napolitano for her leadership in this campaign, and obviously Major League sports as well."

Bordley, who pitched for the Giants in 1980, joined MLB in his current role this past year after a long tenure in government security, and he said the unique collaborating of all sports bodies in this way will have a significant impact going forward.

"This being my initial year in charge of security of Major League Baseball, after 23 years with the Department of Homeland Security, I'm very appreciated of Madam Secretary's support that she has given me, even after I've left Homeland Security," Bordley said. "The communications and assets that they provided for the 2012 All-Star Game in Kansas City and also with the upcoming World Series is vital to our success.

"We have engaged deeply in the Safety Act, which is a very cumbersome, thorough process that requires going through the Department of Homeland Security. ... The "If You See Something, Say Something" [campaign] is vital to our success, especially in this age of social technology where we can get tweets or emails immediately to the stadium. We believe we have utilized the community and the fans to our benefit in all security matters."

Bordley called it "critical" to get all the sports bodies together in support.

"We can compare scenarios that happen to us and see what's working in one city, what's different in current trends, because it's not a one-size-fits-all for every city," Bordley said. "You've got to reach out to the communities, and that's what 'If You See Something Say Something' is all about. You have to reach out to that community, have the contacts within all law enforcement and federal agencies throughout the country and the world."

So if you see something, how do you say something?

"I was just out at Target Field in Minnesota," Bordley said. "They have some different things that I am trying to get more unified. We have tweets that they send to the stadium operations. There are emails. There's a whole host of things you can do with your camera, your iPhones. There's technology we are beginning to give each stadium so it can be immediate."

As an example of how increased communication channels have begun to have an impact, Bordley cited quick actions after an incident during an Aug. 6 Cardinals game at Busch Stadium.

"We just had an incident in St. Louis, where there was a laser [pointer] used, and within 10 to 15 seconds, because of this increased, enhanced technology, we were able to immediately move in and stop it, and also put some teeth in the law with some possible prosecution," Bordley said.

The timing of Monday's announcement comes nearly two weeks from the 11th anniversary of 9/11, and congresswoman Yvette Clarke, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said that is a reminder of why this tipster mentality is even more necessary nationwide.

"The attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, demonstrated that a serious threat existed -- and that threat still exists," Clarke said. "We will always remember the events of that day and the lessons learned.

"The people of New York and, indeed, across this nation, must look and listen, and if they are suspicious of any activity, they should report their suspicions to the police. It is my hope that the PSA will go a long way in encouraging everyone to be vigilant and work collectively to ensure that family outings at sporting events and concerts and the like are both fun and safe."

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.