The Failure of "If You See Something, Say Something"

It's not making New Yorkers safer.


In his new book Against Security, the sociologist Harvey Molotch argues that a host of institutions and procedures that were supposed to keep us safer have in fact made life worse and no more secure. One of his targets is the "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign in New York's subways, so Dwyer Gunn interviewed Molotch about the program's failures for a short piece in New York. I wasn't surprised to read that the campaign generates lots of false leads and that it doesn't seem to have caught any actual terrorists. But I got a grim chuckle out of this extra detail:

Those "See Something" placards plastered on station agents' glass booths? They actually make it harder for the agent, a trained professional, to see anything.