What other communities operate or have attempted to operate CVE?
The three pilot communities (Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Boston) have been off to a slow start in terms of implementing CVE because communities have launched vigorous pushback. In fact, in Minneapolis, a non-profit has rejected a half-million dollar CVE grant calling the program “a war on Muslim-Americans.” Montgomery County public officials have, in contrast, been more enthusiastic about the program. In fact, nationally, it is known as the Montgomery County Model.
How is our county’s CVE program funded?
By you. The county has a grant from the Department of Justice. In addition, county staff including our police department, school personnel and Office of Community Partnerships provide labor as well as other resources (access to county communication services, facilities, etc.). Lastly, the ICC programming is county-funded and the Montgomery County crisis center triages individuals to that program (page 4 of grant).
This system, potentially, creates an environment in which the county is using their funding streams to direct county residents towards those health care providers who are participating in CVE policing over those community programs that choose not to participate in CVE.
How many Montgomery County residents have had their information forwarded to the Department of Homeland Security’s Fusion Sites?
Good question. We don’t know. And as an add-on question, what are the demographics of those individuals and what was the access point for receiving that information (schools, the ICC, mosques).
Why are health care professionals concerned?
Mental health professionals are already obligated to contact law enforcement if they know that someone is imminently at risk of harming him/herself or others. However, CVE is aimed at getting social workers and other behavioral health providers to serve as community informants for low-level behavioral health issues and political thoughts. As mentioned in another FAQ on this page, red flags include homesickness, missing school and other behavioral issues. There is no evidence that these are predictors of terrorism.
In the county’s CVE report, it is primarily focused on hate crimes like vandalism and graffiti. How do these relate to violent extremism?
We wonder that too. Of course, vandalism and graffiti, particularly those with hate bias are serious and need to be pursued, but there does not seem to be any data that correlates a relationship with terrorism. Perhaps purchases of assault weapons would be a better determinant of violent extremism.
It should be noted that data on hate crimes were already being collected by our Police Department prior to CVE. So what is the value added of the CVE program? You can read the county’s CVE report here.
What kind of cases have gone through the CVE system?
In our county’s CVE grant, the ICC cites a case where a young man had missed school. After counseling, it was discovered that he was homesick. While it is certainly desirable to assist this young man, it does seem to be a stretch to claim this was a counter-terrorist intervention. Further, if these cases are being funneled into the CVE pipeline, it will have a chilling effect on individuals, particularly Muslims, from seeking behavioral health services.
So, what do you want to do about our County’s CVE program?
We don’t merely want to change it, we want to be like Minneapolis and dismantle it. CVE raises a host of civil liberty concerns and is based on racial profiling. Recently, this has been more overtly stated in President Trump’s comments about the program.
But we need some program. What would be an alternative?
According to Dr. J. Wesley Boyd, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, “We know of several non-punitive approaches to helping ALL kids resist ALL recruitment to violence. They are not high tech and they do not involve the FBI.”
A good orientation to this model approach can be found in the documentary Paper Tigers. The program has demonstrated universal effectiveness (not just radicalization but substance abuse, gang violence, sexual assault, school performance); does not violate civil liberties; and allows health care providers and teachers to maintain trust with those they work with.
What is COINTEL-PRO that is sometimes referenced in discussions on CVE?
Cointel-Pro (short for Counterintelligence Program) was launched in the late 1950’s by FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover to infiltrate, spy and discredit political organizations which included anti-war and civil rights activists. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the individuals that the FBI spied on through Cointel-Pro. The program was based on the notion of “thought-policing” or putting someone under suspicion merely because of their political beliefs.
But this is Montgomery County. Surveillance will never get out of hand here?
In 2008, the Maryland State police were caught spying on peace activists including Quakers and a nun. All were engaged in challenging the death penalty. At least two members were from Montgomery County. It can happen anywhere.