The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority through its Targeted Violence Prevention Program delivers educational presentations and trainings throughout Illinois to community, law enforcement, medical, mental health, and public health groups. One of the goals of these educational sessions is to educate Illinois residents about the varied forms of targeted violence and how violence prevention strategies can be applied to prevent such violence.
On July 10-11, 2018 ICJIA TVPP, partnering with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago and the National Counter Terrorism Center, presented a “Community Awareness Briefing Training” for a wide range of government professionals from northern and central Illinois.
The focus of the ICJIA TVPP educational presentations is to make the public more aware of the varied forms of threats that exist and how prevention and early intervention efforts pioneered by violence prevention professionals and studied by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control can be applied to prevent targeted violence as well. This type of education is necessary because there is are misperceptions among the public and service providers that hate or ideologically inspired violence is largely about ideas and ideology, and as a consequence, well-known risk and protective factors and the roles they play are often ignored.
The NCTC “Community Awareness Briefing Training” equips other government professionals to deliver the types of educational presentations that ICJIA TVPP is providing year-round throughout Illinois. The NCTC CAB focuses on hate-inspired targeted violence.
Through this training ICJIA TVPP seeks to build partners in the public health, social services, and law enforcement community engagement sectors throughout Illinois. By building greater capacity through a variety of disciplines focused on building and sustaining community resilience, ICJIA TVPP will be better positioned to integrate prevention of targeted violence into existing violence prevention programs, and to help communities build such programs where none currently exist.
“I learned about this free resource provided by the NCTC last November at conference in the DC area” said TVPP director Junaid Afeef. “When I saw that NCTC shared ICJIA TVPP’s vision of addressing all forms of hate-inspired targeted violence, and that their “CAB” emphasized prevention and early intervention focusing on helping people in crisis, I wanted to bring it to Illinois.”
NCTC officials emphasized that “in the US, ideology, regardless of the cause it supports is protected; force or violence on its behalf is not.” They went on to state also that ” there is no one profile of a violence extremist.”
During the first day of training the NCTC experts walked through the various typologies of ideologically inspired violence seen in the United States. One point driven home that rarely gets discussed in the public is that fact that threats come from throughout American society geographically, demographically, and ideologically. Using case studies available in the “CAB” training, the trainers illustrated the various recruiting materials such as videos and social media tools used to lure individuals into engaging in acts of targeted violence. These materials included propaganda used by far-right extremists.
The two-day training walked the training cohort through the substance of the NCTC “Community Awareness Briefing” materials. The training participants engaged in a dialogue that came from varied disciplines including law enforcement at the local and federal level and public health practioners from Chicago and central Illinois to help further the understanding of the materials. TVPP director Afeef attended as an observer during day one and participated answering questions and providing insights on Illinois-specific efforts. On day two Director Afeef led a conversation about what is being done in Illinois, how ICJIA TVPP is helping, and how ICJIA TVPP can partner with the trainees as they seek to use the “Community Awareness Briefings” in their community outreach efforts.
During day two of the training a representative of the FBI also spoke to the trainees. He emphasized that law enforcement engagement does not have to end with an arrest. Using examples from his own case work and sharing examples when he engaged the assistance of community resources through ICJIA TVPP, the FBI representative noted that the existence of community-led programs would help provide resources for alternatives for people in need of help.
The NCTC “Community Awareness Briefing Training” provided hands-on training. During day two the trainees were able to participate in preparing and delivering portions of the CAB to their fellow trainees with feedback. Going forward, the trainees will be able to use resources made available to them by NCTC as well as the expertise at ICJIA TVPP to enhance their work of building community resilience.
ICJIA TVPP received assistance from the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the City of Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications, the Chicago Police Department, and the Chaimpaign-Urbana Public Health District with outreach efforts to engage volunteers for the training. The training cohort included hate crimes investigators from the Chicago Police Department, public health professionals from Chicago and Champaign-Urbana, and emergency management professionals.
All selected participants had community engagement responsibilities. The NCTC criteria for participation prohibited law enforcement professionals with intelligence gathering responsibilities from participating in this training. This is because prevention and early intervention efforts focused on hate-inspired targeted violence are not tools for intelligence gathering. Efforts to use prevention of targeted violence efforts as a means of intelligence gathering damages the credibility of collaborative efforts at helping individuals in crisis.
Law enforcement led intelligence gathering is an important tool for public safety. It operates separately and apart from community-led efforts focused on preventing targeted violence.