Homeland security starts with hometown security. Too often, the misconception prevails that counterterrorism (CT) efforts are reactive solutions to known terrorist activity and revolve only around intelligence and law enforcement efforts. However, CT efforts can be proactive in mitigating the threat and can be conducted outside of a classified environment.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programs are a new, evolving set of programs and initiatives that are revolutionizing the way we deal with radicalization.
CVE initiatives are centered around tightknit communities. The programs engage key individuals and groups within communities through education, communication, and programming to build their capacity and trust. These engagements are not meant to change the way people view politics, or the world; rather, they aim to provide greater awareness and outlets for those who may feel inclined to resort to violence to propagate their beliefs.
The White House released Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in 2011 to guide the implementation of CVE initiatives across the Government. Agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, and the Department of Justice have followed suit with more tailored strategies for their respective missions.
CVE efforts include:
- Establishing trusting, productive relations between key community figures and law enforcement officials
- Promoting community policing and capacity in a variety of areas
- Enabling exchanges between community figures and groups to build lasting relationships across communities
- Providing religious and cultural awareness training for law enforcement officers and government officials
- Conducting analysis and research on indicators, environments, and behaviors associated with radicalization
These programs are unique as they target the sources of extremism before individuals turn to or are coerced to use violence. They are also beneficial in helping diasporas assimilate into their new communities. We must continue to invest ample resources into these programs to bolster them even further. This helps to build strong communities, while moving forward with efforts to combat radicalism. As terrorist threats and trends change, our CT approaches must adapt as well. CVE programming is an innovative, intelligent strategy that can yield significant benefits for American security interests in the years to come.