New White House Plan for Countering Violent Extremism by Empowering Local Partners

October 19th, 2016 by Maggie Davis

This morning the White House released a new strategic plan for countering violent extremism in the United States by further empowering local community initiatives. While the new plan retains the goals set out by the 2011 Strategy for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States, it recognizes the current dynamics of violent extremism seen over the last several years. In particular, it emphasizes the complexity of preventing violent extremism in the age of social media and the internet.

From ISIS recruits to Sovereign Citizens to White Supremacists, “violent extremist” is a general term to refer to an individual who commits acts of targeted violence to further an ideological goal. There is no consistent profile of violent extremists, however there are a number of identified risk factors for an individual to be radicalized and then mobilized to violence.  Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programs aim to prevent radicalization and mobilization to violence. These programs range from countering extremist messaging on social media to rehabilitating violent extremists to community driven prevention programs. The White House plan supports a multi-tiered framework for CVE from the national, local, and individual level to strengthen local community resilience.

Since 2012, Montgomery County, Maryland has developed a community-led Countering Violent Extremism program known as the Building Resilience Against Violent Extremism (BRAVE) model. Working with private partners and local government, the BRAVE program aims to enhance social cohesion within the community to enhance public safety. The four-part model works to engage the community, educate the community on risk factors of violent extremism, connect the community with resources, and intervene in cases where an individual is at high risk of violent extremist behavior. In 2016, the Center for Health and Homeland Security assumed the role as the backbone organization for the BRAVE model in Montgomery County.

The renewed support from the White House in empowering local partners to prevent violent extremists and intervene in a person’s path to radicalization and mobilization to violence is encouraging for the continued development of the BRAVE model. As the program evolves, Montgomery County and CHHS hopes for support of local CVE initiatives by the next White House administration and 115th United States Congress.

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