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FCPD launches new unit for investigating potential threats of violence

Fairfax County police (file photo)

The Fairfax County Police Department has launched a new unit dedicated to investigating active violence incidents and bomb threats.

The Threat Assessment and Management Unit (TAM) will offer a systemic and multidisciplinary approach to analyzing, tracking and preventing potential acts of targeted violence. The unit would also intervene in cases where individuals are at risk of violence.

The unit’s specialties will include handling red flag cases, where a court issues an Emergency Substantial Risk Order letting police temporarily take away an individual’s gun because they pose a danger to themselves or someone else.

“This specialized team is comprised of highly skilled officers and analysts who possess a unique combination of training in law enforcement, and intelligence analysis,” the FCPD wrote in a press release. “Their main objective is to proactively identify, evaluate, and mitigate potential threats to our community.”

The unit will include personnel from the county and Northern Virginia overall, as the FCPD hopes to create a regional program that could serve as a national model.

Having a standalone team focused exclusively on these cases will improve the quality of the investigations, which require unique expertise, Police Chief Kevin Davis said when announcing the new unit.

“While it is important for law enforcement to be involved to ensure a comprehensive and inclusive approach – and to intervene if the threat escalates – partnerships…are crucial, as the primary goal of this approach is to provide individuals with support services before the threat rises to a level requiring law enforcement intervention,” FCPD wrote.

The number of violence threat events has increased from 30 in 2020 to 153 in 2023, according to police. The number of emergency substantial risk orders increased from five in 2020 to 77 in 2023, though data from the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office indicates that over 100 cases have been opened this year.

Similarly, there were 27 bomb threats in 2023, 29 in 2022 and 18 in 2021.

Here’s more from FCPD on the unit:

The goal is to interdict and deter subjects on the pathway to targeted violence and provide appropriate resources to the subject. The TAM Unit will conduct assessments based on an appraisal of observed (or reasonably observable) behaviors to identify potentially dangerous or violent situations, investigate/assess them, and ultimately mitigate them. The overall goal will be to ensure the safety of all involved, while respecting individual privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.

The Threat Assessment and Management (TAM) Unit employs a multifaceted approach to assess various types of threats, ranging from individuals displaying concerning behaviors to organized criminal activities. By leveraging their expertise and utilizing advanced technology, they conduct thorough investigations, analyze patterns, and assess potential risks to determine the most appropriate course of action. This unit actively collaborates with other law enforcement agencies, mental health professionals, and community partners to gather comprehensive information and develop proactive strategies to address emerging threats effectively. Through their diligent efforts, the TAM plays a crucial role in preventing potential incidents, promoting community trust, and fostering a secure environment for all.

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