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Police stress importance of reporting any kind of suspicious activity, no matter how small

ARAB, Ala. -- Escaped inmates in Decatur and a multi-state manhunt recently prompted law enforcement officials to ask the public for help, and action on that plea is something local law enforcement agencies say is a good one to maintain.

"Many times we're limited on the law enforcement that we have out in the public," Arab Police Chief Ed Ralston said, "Obviously there are thousands, hundreds of thousands of citizens who are out there."

Ralston added the public can be a big asset to a department, especially to a smaller agency like his. "It's very valuable for us for someone to call and say 'hey, this is what I just saw'," Ralston said.

It's a good practice: if you see something, say something. That can lead to arrests and solved cases, even from something as big as a multi-state manhunt to car break-ins. "Even if they think it's very, very, trivial, for me it might be the lead or the information that we've been looking for," Ralston explained.

Even in day-to-day police work, a tip from the public can be the tip that puts an offender behind bars. "People might be looking for us and don't want something to be seen, so they can hide or not do that activity, but the minute we leave they resume and a private citizen might know more about what's going on than we do," Ralston said.

You can send a tip to most agencies by calling, through email, and even on social media. Many times, you can remain anonymous.

"Again, that could be that one lead that we've been looking for," Ralston said.