Public Programs to Counter Violent Extremism

A plastic yellow ribbon with the words "police line" is seen before an out of focus black and blue backgroundA new paper released by the Department of Homeland Security describes an evaluation of programs intended to counter violent extremism in Los Angeles (LA) County: Leveraging a Targeted Violence Prevention Program to Prevent Violent Extremism: A Formative Evaluation in Los Angeles. Between December 2015 and November 2016, public health professionals in the department of Psychology at the University of Illinois, Chicago, collaborated with the University of California Los Angeles Center for Public Health and Disasters to evaluate new programs in LA County for efficacy in countering violent extremism (CVE).

The study highlighted the fact that current law enforcement practice utilize predominantly primary CVE prevention practices, and highlighted the need for programs to address secondary prevention of violent extremism. This involves preventing an act before it can happen. The primary strategies for addressing secondary prevention should include using existing public health and mental health programs, social services, and faith-based support systems to identify and deter individuals who might be inspired to engage with a a radical group or perform an act of extreme violence.

The authors suggest that law enforcement agencies coordinate with existing local stakeholders such as interfaith agencies and the local communities to develop secondary CVE prevention strategies that can provide the necessary services to an individual inclined toward acts of violence.

Los Angeles county was one of three cities involved in a pilot study to “identify promising practices that will inform and inspire community-led efforts throughout the nation.” Similar evaluations were conducted in Boston, Massachusetts and Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota.


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