- Associated Press - Monday, October 12, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Law enforcement in Lincoln is teaming up with mental health providers and University of Nebraska officials in an effort to prevent targeted violence.

The Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1GEqbzn ) reports the Lincoln Threat Advisory Team was started about five years ago. Officials and law enforcement on the team practice threat assessment, working to be proactive and recognize warning signs of violence.

“Where threat assessment kicks in, a crime may not have been committed,” said Mario Scalora, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln forensic psychologist who studies the practice. “But we see the very strong possibility of more violence because of the nature of the warning signs.”

If some cases managed by officials had gone the other way, Scalora said the “cost to this community would have been overwhelming.”

In one case, a university student’s behavior drew concerns from others on campus. University police investigators contacted the student, in a type of contact that Scalora said happens dozens of times a week.

The student told investigators that he had thoughts of hurting others and didn’t want to. Scalora said the student had followed people and was close to acting, but that the team got him help.

While away, the student asked if police could take a large knife that was in his room.

“That was a case that could have gone very, very badly,” he said.

Lincoln Police Capt. Jon Sundermeier said most of the cases handled by the advisory team involve domestic violence. He said officers who respond to domestic violence calls now ask more questions about relationship history and try to identify past abuse or controlling behavior.

The team helped one woman get into a shelter after police learned her husband was abusing her, controlling her phone and monitoring her using in-home cameras, Sundermeier said.

Victims in cases handled by the advisory team have been kept safe, Sundermeier said, and they still follow up on people.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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