The Prevention Team
No single agency can fulfill the prevention role alone; there must be a whole-of-community approach that brings together government agencies, community leaders, and service providers. They must build trusting relationships and actively share information about potential threats in line with privacy and civil rights protections. They must also partner with the public to build trust, encourage reporting of genuinely threatening activity, and support turning those at risk away from violence.
The following figure shows the typical partners for active information-sharing.
- Schools and universities
- Mental health
- Private sector (crowded spaces, critical infrastructure, and workplaces)
Agencies need to maintain key liaisons and points of contact (POCs) across agencies and ensure ongoing relations and communication through those POCs. They also need to set up policies and procedures for sharing information related to potential threats.
There are privacy and civil rights guidelines on what information can and should be collected and shared. Our experts noted that information-sharing will need to be on a case-by-case basis; agencies could ask partner organizations whether they have any relevant information about people or venues involved in a specific potential threat report. Maintaining relationships among people and having policies and procedures in place (such as standing information-sharing agreements) to support case-by-case information-sharing are key.
It is understandably difficult to maintain vigilance on and resources for a type of threat that is so rare (several dozen incidents occur per year in a country of 330 million people). Most people will go their entire lives without encountering a person who will commit a mass shooting or other mass attack. Despite this, all members of a community need to realize that they might be the one who comes across the warning sign that can make the difference. Community service providers, including law enforcement, would rather get a report so that they can assess the potential threat than have someone not report because they think their concern is irrelevant or wrong.
Relationships and information-sharing that facilitate responses to threats of violence and violent crime more broadly can also help agencies prevent and prepare for mass casualty incidents and disasters in general. The prevention mindset can be added to existing relationships and daily job roles.