AG Barr Unveils New DOJ Effort to Combat Threat of Mass Shootings

October 24, 2019 Updated: October 24, 2019

Attorney General William Barr has revealed a new plan intended to prevent mass shootings that would use existing strategies for detecting and disrupting threats early on.

Barr said in a memo dated Oct. 16 obtained by The Epoch Times that the Justice Department’s new efforts aim to address the “atrocious acts of mass violence” seen in recent years by refining law enforcement’s ability to “identify, assess, and engage potential mass shooters before they strike.” The memo was sent to federal prosecutors and law enforcement agencies.

The attorney general said he was aware of the challenges posed by some lone actors who exhibit irrational and violent behavior but acknowledged the department’s past successes in thwarting many such threats.

“Sadly, law enforcement has not been able to stop every mass shooting and these events fill our hearts with grief,” Barr said. “That is why it is critically important to me that we learn from our experiences over the last two decades fighting terrorism and violent crime and that we apply those lessons to hone an efficient, effective, and programmatic strategy to disrupt individuals who are mobilizing towards violence, by all lawful means.”

He pointed out trends seen in recent public safety threats, saying that they occur “abruptly” from people who sometimes show “ambiguous indications of intent.” He added that these people also often display symptoms of mental illness or substance abuse problems, which pose further challenges.

These challenges have prompted agents to develop new tactics to respond to such threats, Barr said, including employing the use of clinical psychologists, threat assessment professionals, intervention teams, and community groups to help detect, understand, and mitigate the risks these individuals pose.

He added that these cases usually lead to detention and court-ordered mental health treatment, substance abuse counseling, electronic monitoring, and other forms of supervision that are aimed to mitigate recidivism.

He gave an example of a successful case where the FBI worked cooperatively with parents and mental health professionals to help and monitor a young person who was the subject of a threat investigation.

“We need to apply the same type of forward-leaning and thoughtful strategies more broadly to help triage threats and prevent violence wherever we detect reliable indicators of criminal activity or potential danger to the public,” Barr said.

In his memo, Barr also announced that the Justice Department will also hold a training conference at FBI headquarters in December to explore ideas on how to face these threats.

This comes after a number of mass shootings that across the country this year, including a shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, that left 22 people dead, followed by another shooting hours later in Dayton, Ohio, that left nine dead.

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