Acts of homegrown and domestic violent extremism have been on the rise over the last decade. In order to prepare state, local, tribal and territorial responders to defend their communities from these threats, LSU’s National Center for Biomedical Research and Training/Academy of Counter-Terrorist Education, or LSU NCBRT/ACE, is launching a new course that is specifically centered on detecting extremist threats.

LSU NCBRT/ACE is a training arm of FEMA’s National Training and Education Division and delivers a number of different types of active threat trainings that are federally funded and certified by the Department of Homeland Security. The new course, titled “Recognizing and Identifying Domestic and Homegrown Violent Extremism,” or AWR-409, is a one-day, awareness-level course that explores violent extremism in the U.S. and will teach participants how to identify, asses and counter the threat of different types of violent extremism. The course is currently being finalized and is expected to be available to schedule in June 2022.

Domestic violent extremism has always played a role in the nation’s history, but incidents of domestic violent extremism have intensified recently. According to a March 2021 report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and other federal enforcement agencies, “domestic violent extremists who are motivated by a range of ideologies and galvanized by recent political and societal events in the United States pose an elevated threat to the Homeland in 2021.”

As incidents of domestic and homegrown violent extremism increase, it is critical for first responders to recognize the ideology and indicators of violent extremism. Responders must be able to differentiate the constitutionally protected rights of those with extremist ideologies while also protecting themselves and the communities they serve. The course will help these responders identify “reasonable suspicion,” which exists when there are facts to support a possibility that an individual or organization is involved in a criminal activity.

This course describes the radicalization and recruitment process and the tactics that extremists use to carry out their missions. Participants will consider their own jurisdiction’s baseline activity and how activity outside of baseline patterns could indicate violent extremist activity. Participants also explore several approaches to responder safety, including tactics to coordinate across response disciplines, online security, mental health resources and communication both between response agencies and with the public.

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