Based on qualitative interviews with 24 law enforcement and community-service practitioners in California and Illinois, this “brief” identifies common barriers and facilitators related to whether family members, friends, or co-workers of violent extremists who are aware of their attitudes and spoken plans report their concerns to public safety authorities, and 10 recommendations are offered for improving such reporting.
The interviews found that impediments to such voluntary reporting of threats of violent action by known individuals or groups include 1) a reluctance to believe that verbal support or expression of violent action would be put into action; 2) uncertainty about how law enforcement will respond to the friend or family member; 3) being unfamiliar with how to report and express concerns; and 4) fear of being labeled as disloyal or untrustworthy as a friend or family member. Suggestions by respondents for improving such reporting included 1) increasing the awareness and knowledge of reporting processes; 2) providing community-based services to support both the reporters and those being reported; 3) improving policies and procedures for receiving reports; 4) building capacity and training for community leaders who can take such reports; and 5) developing trust between community members and law enforcement agencies. The authors of this study developed five recommendations for law enforcement (with community collaboration) to facilitate the willingness of community members to make such reports and trust the appropriateness of the law-enforcement response. They also developed five recommendations for communities (with law enforcement collaboration) that would facilitate community-wide knowledge of the logistics, significance, appropriateness, and supportive services for such reporting. Next research steps on this issue are also suggested.