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Law enforcement, community partners form Cass Clay Threat Management Threat Assessment Team

Cass County Sheriff Jesse Jahner introduces members of the newly formed Cass Clay Threat Management Threat Assessment Team.
D. Webster
Cass County Sheriff Jesse Jahner introduces members of the newly formed Cass Clay Threat Management Threat Assessment Team.

The team is aimed at assessing and addressing potential threats to the community.

A new partnership between law enforcement and community service representatives in the Cass and Clay County areas is aimed at collectively assessing and addressing potential threats to the surrounding community.

Cass County Sheriff Jess Jahner says the Cass Clay Threat Assessment Threat Management Team won’t be able to predict, but assess behaviors – and hopefully steer someone’s course away from a path that may lead to violence. The team is comprised of representatives from law enforcement, human services, education, social services, the court system and mental health services. He says each agency will be responsible for assessing risks from information submitted to their jurisdiction, and make referrals to find healthy and safe plans forward.

Captain Randy McAlister is with the Cottage Grove Police Department in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, where a similar team was formed in 2015. He says his team was modeled after a team formed in Salem, Oregon in 1999, and so far it’s been a valuable tool in his community.

"You know, luckily none of the cases that we've staffed have actually turned into violence - so there's some anecdotal evidence there, right - it's difficult to prove a negative. But I think the big takeaway or the big measure is that you're not going to see that you stopped an act of violence, but you're going to see that you identified somebody who was on a pathway to violence, and you got them help, got them on a good, healthy, emotionally, physically, spiritually, you know, pathway that they weren't on before. And they can have productive lives."

A shooting in Fargo last July wounded two police officers and one civilian, while claiming the life of another officer. Sheriff Jahner says while incidents like this may not always be able to be prevented, law enforcement leaders are trying to do what they can to keep the community safe.

"The way to do that, because law enforcement oftentimes has to be reactive in these types of situations if we're not collaborating with our community partners - through collaboration and working with our community partners, and understanding the different services they provide, and different tools they have available to them, some of the threat assessment tools that we're going to get to through sending people to training, we're hoping we can identify potential behaviors prior to that happening."

Jahner says the formation of the team has been in the works for the past year.