Los Angeles

LAPD Program Prevents Acts of Terrorism

The Los Angeles Police Department is working on a program that aims to identify a person with a tendency or intention to commit an act of terrorism and works to stop them before it happens.

PATHE, or Providing Alternatives to Hinder Extremism, is designed to create a path for a person who raises concern but hasn't necessarily committed a crime. It is used to confront any type of extremism -- ISIS, Al-Qaeda, neo-Nazis and more.

The triggerman in the San Bernadino shooting, the Orlando night club shooter and the man accused of killing and wounding travelers at an airport in Fort Lauderdale had prior interactions with law enforcement before these deadly events, the LAPD said.

"In all those instances, there was nothing there to charge them," Deputy Chief Horace Frank of the LAPD's Counter-Terrorism Special Operations Bureau told NBC4. 

Several groups within the LAPD, including the Mental Evaluation Unit, are now training together to enforce PATHE.

"What we're doing is using that infrastructure to adapt to our current situation with regards to terrorism extremism," Frank said.

The situation shows cases have evolved toward "individual actors in search of purpose and attention," according to The American Exception, a recent report on ISIS-related terrorism prosecutions in the U.S.

"Now they're telling their people out there, you don't need to travel anymore," Frank said.

According to the report, nearly 78 percent of those prosecuted are American citizens, and 45 percent of cases involved plotting for attacks on U.S. domestic targets.

Earlier this year, police were able to track down a person suspected of making a bomb threat to a location in Los Angeles. Frank said the person suffered from schizophrenia and was put in the PATHE program.

"Instead of waiting for them to cross the line, (the program) provides them with the help that they need, whether it's mental health assistance, or religious counseling," Frank said.

The program is voluntary. Frank said multiple people are involved.

PATHE allows for intervention while also dealing with any potential criminal charges.

"Sometimes putting an individual like this in jail doesn't address the long term issue," Frank said.

The program's work is extended to members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force -- which includes the FBI --  so if a situation arises with a person of concern, other organizations can be aware of PATHE.

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