LSU NCBRT/ACE to Offer New, DHS-Certified Course on Domestic Violent Extremism
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, Louisiana State University’s National Center for Biomedical Research and Training/Academy of Counter-Terrorist Education, or LSU NCBRT/ACE, is preparing to launch a new course later this year 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, entitled Recognizing and Identifying Domestic and Homegrown Violent Extremism (AWR-409), is a one-day, awareness-level course that explores violent extremism in the United States and will teach participants how to identify, asses and counter the threat of different types of violent extremism.
Domestic violent extremism has always played a role in our nation’s history, but incidents of domestic violent extremism have intensified in recent history. According to a March 2021 report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, DHS, 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 the incidence of domestic and homegrown violent extremism rises, 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.
Roy Bethge is an LSU NCBRT/ACE lead instructor and subject matter expert who was the lead project coordinator for the development of the course. He, along with LSU NCBRT/ACE Associate Director of Research and Development Jerry Monier, gave a presentation on domestic violent extremism which pulled heavily from this new course at the National Sheriffs’ Association’s winter conference.
“With this topic, one of the most crucial things we really wanted to highlight was the importance of establishing baselines within an officer’s given community,” Bethge said. “Every community may have different norms and behaviors that may be normal for them but that other communities may find extreme. This course is built around understanding what’s normal for your specific environment and what to do when abnormal behavior arises.”
The course also pulls lessons from historical case studies, including the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the 2015 racially-motivated shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, the 2016 San Bernardino shooting, and others.
Susan Schneider is the branch chief of active assailant security for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s Office of Security Programs. She attended a pilot delivery of the Recognizing and Identifying Domestic and Homegrown Violent Extremism course.
"Working with the community is so important when it comes to identifying and preventing the spread of domestic violent extremism,” Schneider said. “Empowering citizens to identify suspicious behavioral indicators and activity and reporting to local law enforcement or their workplace security - not with the intention to get those individuals in trouble, but to get them help - helps to prevent targeted violence and keep people in the community safe."
The course goes into detail to describe the acts, methods and purposes that make domestic extremism different from other constitutionally-protected acts, and it also breaks down the many different categories and subcategories of domestic violent extremism.
"It was important to me to take this course to see all of the aspects of this topic put together,” Schneider also said. “I thought the course was really well done and the cadre of instructors that taught it were very knowledgeable and engaging. Even with the different actors and definitions that are a part of the DVE lexicon and so many local, state, and federal partners involved, the course was developed in a way that made a complex topic easy to understand."
Recognizing and Identifying Domestic and Homegrown Violent Extremism is expected to launch in May. To learn more information about the course or schedule the course for your agency, please visit LSU NCBRT/ACE’s website at ncbrt.lsu.edu to find the contact information for the training manager for your FEMA region.
About LSU NCBRT/ACE:
LSU NCBRT/ACE is a nationally recognized center for emergency preparedness and response training located at Louisiana State University’s flagship campus in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We provide mobile training to both the national and international emergency response community. LSU NCBRT/ACE has expertise in research, development and delivery of training in the areas of specialized law enforcement operations; biological incident response; food and agriculture safety and security; school safety; and instructional design and technique. For more information on LSU NCBRT/ACE’s courses and resources, please visit ncbrt.lsu.edu.