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TVTP Grantee Story: District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency

The District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (DC HSEMA) uses its Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3) Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention (TVTP) grant funding to enhance its capacity to provide training to partners as well as increase the number and quality of targeted violence and terrorism referrals received by its Fusion Center. 

Grant Background 

The DC HSEMA received its initial CP3 TVTP grant in fiscal year 2020 to enhance its capacity to engage the community, develop and provide tailored training to relevant community stakeholders, and create media to enhance both the number and quality of targeted violence and terrorism referrals that reach its Fusion Center. 

Through engagement with partners—community members, schools, higher education institutions, faith-based institutions, along with law enforcement agencies in DC, Maryland, and Virginia—DC HSEMA learned that the language it used to solicit referrals and the media it used to advertise referral services had limited or sometimes detrimental impact. Prior to the TVTP grant, the Fusion Center tended to categorize threats in terms of counterterrorism, crime, or nefarious activity. It solicited referrals as “tips" or “reports” and used limited media to advertise referral services. This inhibited engagement opportunities and requests for the DC HSEMA Threat Assessment Center to provide mobilization for violence awareness training. 

Grant Activity 

DC HSEMA partnered with the Core Advisory Group—a forum of multiple local and federal agencies—to discuss strategies to better reach the community and create Protect DC. Protect DC utilized a four-pronged communications and engagement strategy: 1) in-person engagement, 2) website and online media, 3) social media, and 4) paid media. This included a city-wide marketing campaign that placed QR codes on train signage and messages that link to the referral page on the DC HSEMA website. Social media strategies included engagement through mobile app messages, specifically directed to socially vulnerable areas in the city.  

The District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency engaged with community partners to better communicate and provide tailored trainings to enhance the quality and number of targeted violence and terrorism referrals from the community.

Protect DC made key edits in language and terminology to better connect with the community. “Referrals”—a term used by DC HSEMA’s behavioral health colleagues that implies care and connection for the individual of concern—replaced the terms "tips” and "reports.” “At-promise” replaced "at-risk," suggesting that certain communities could benefit from using Protect DC services.  

Protect DC changed training and educational content to improve the quality of its referrals. A rebrand of primary training aimed to equip partners with a better understanding of and definition for targeted violence and domestic terrorism and use case studies to highlight the behavioral "stories" of individuals who commit acts of violence. The second part of the training included tailored, audience-specific exercises—such as the examination of the Pulse nightclub shooter, a lesson in faith-based violence and interfaith training—during a training for the LGBTQIA community. 

Last Updated: 09/06/2023
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