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To help curb terrorism and violence threats, DHS awards $20M to local communities

DHS has prioritized combatting domestic extremism.

September 6, 2023, 1:07 PM

The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday announced $20 million in grant funding aimed at preventing targeted violence and terrorism in the United States.

The grant money, provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is aimed at helping local communities prevent and combat targeted violence in the U.S. by offering money that can be used for trainings, equipment, hiring threat analysts and other resources to better protect from domestic violent extremism, according to a news release from the agency.

"As the recent racially-motivated shooting in Jacksonville made painfully clear, targeted violence and terrorism can impact any community, anywhere," said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. "The Department of Homeland Security is committed to confronting this threat. Through the partnership and collaboration this grant program helps build, the department will continue to work with communities to prevent such abhorrent targeted acts from occurring."

PHOTO: Alejandro Mayorkas and Robin Carnahan, the Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration arrive to an event at the Department of Homeland Security's St. Elizabeth's Campus on Aug. 17, 2023 in Washington, D.C.
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Robin Carnahan, the Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), arrive to an event at the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) St. Elizabeth's Campus on Aug. 17, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

When Mayorkas took office in 2021, one of his priorities was to combat the rise in domestic violent extremism in the United States, which he has said is the most persistent threat in the country.

Since the establishment of the grant program in 2020, more than $70 million in grants have been given to communities in 35 states and Washington, D.C., DHS notes. Among the grants awarded this year: a nearly $660,000 grant to the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security to give threat prevention training to law enforcement, a $700,000 grant for Minnesota Department of Public Safety to develop a state threat assessment and threat management team, and a $600,000 grant to the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office to better increase its community resource team through things like bystander training.

PHOTO: The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seal hangs on a wall at the agency headquarters in Washington, D.C on July 6, 2018.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seal hangs on a wall at the agency headquarters in Washington, D.C on July 6, 2018.
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE

The Department says 41% of this year's grant recipients have a focus in serving underserved populations -- an increase compared to 25% last year.

Former Department of Homeland Security Acting Under-Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis John Cohen told ABC News these grants reflect a change in the way the department views threat prevention.

"The strength of this program is that it recognizes that today the United States deals with a threat that's very different than the one it faced after 9/11 and it requires a different investigative and violence-prevention toolbox," Cohen, now an ABC News contributor, said. "These grants are a step in that direction and are important because they can be local efforts to better address threats that have caused too many mass shootings in the United States already."

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