The Department of Justice announced awards from the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) totaling $2.6 million to four jurisdictions to disrupt and mitigate threats of violence. The funds support state and local prosecutors and investigators who seek expertise from mental health and threat assessment experts to identify these individuals and prevent violent acts.
“Disruption and early engagement programs are part of the Department of Justice’s national strategy to disrupt potential mass shootings and other rapidly mobilizing threats of targeted violence,” said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen. “This program provides funding that enables state and local authorities to work with federal partners and to develop new tools and tactics to continue protecting the safety and well-being of our communities.”
Prioritized nationally by the Attorney General in October 2019, disruption and early engagement programs leverage relationships with law enforcement, community groups, and health professionals to help mitigate violent acts by developing individualized threat assessments and mitigation plans. These grants provide funds for state, local, and tribal governments to establish disruption and early engagement networks.
The funds are part of the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program administered by OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), and are being awarded to the San Antonio, Texas, Police Department; Macon-Bibb County, Georgia; the Bear River, Utah, Health Department; and the County of Penobscot, Maine. The awards are part of more than $29 million in grants recently announced by the Department of Justice to address mental illness in the criminal justice system. This initiative supports teams that address rapidly evolving threats of targeted violence and encourages the building of multidisciplinary threat assessment and threat management teams.
“There’s no question that mental health issues are a growing threat to public safety, and they are straining law enforcement and correctional resources,” said OJP Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine T. Sullivan. “Collaboration among justice system professionals and those trained in mental health is essential to addressing these issues.”
In coordination with the Council of State Governments, BJA recently launched the Law Enforcement-Mental Health Collaboration Support Center, which offers tailored assistance to criminal justice agencies and their community partners looking to improve responses for people with mental health or substance use issues.
OJP, directed by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine T. Sullivan, provides federal leadership, grants, training and technical assistance, and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, assist victims and enhance the rule of law by strengthening the criminal and juvenile justice systems. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov/.