Erie County starts ‘Risk Assessment Team’ modeled after established Monroe County team
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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) – In the wake of the mass shooting at a Tops in Buffalo, the Erie County Sheriff is setting up a new team to track threats and assess risks. The goal is to try to intervene before it’s too late. They’re modeling that team after one that’s already in operation here in Monroe County.
“The team will provide guidance on the mitigation of developing threats,” explained Erie County Sheriff John Garcia when announcing the creation of a threat assessment team. “We’re going to look for indicators such as social media postings, pre-operational activities, fringe ideologies…this group can identify individuals and disrupt their pathway to violence.”
Erie County developed this team by looking at how a similar team operates in Monroe County. “I spoke with representatives with the secret service and Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter,” Garcia said.
The team in Monroe County is called ROCTAC. It’s made up of about 30 different agencies including law enforcement, mental health professionals, school administrators, business leaders and others. Since its inception in 2019, ROCTAC has worked on 38 cases.
A few weeks ago, News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke spoke with Sheriff Todd Baxter about ROCTAC
Sheriff Baxter – "If we have a School District or an employer that just has that one case that’s so different… and everybody’s dealing with stress, mental health, and they deal with it all the time but it’s just that one particular case that’s off the charts, going a little different than every other scenario they can bring it before this think tank if you will."
Jennifer Lewke – "And so, you all sorta look at the case and you say, ‘okay what is the threat to the community and how can we connect this person with the services that may alleviate that threat?’”
Sheriff Baxter – "Right, so there is a predictability to some of these cases. The targeted violence cases, you go back and study them which we do and you look at this ladder of evolution towards a grievance, pissed off at something, upset with something, towards ideation, I can’t get off it I’m fixated, towards some kind of overt action so, I start to study or post more online or come up with things that they’re constructing around that. It’s very predictable if you see it ahead of time."
The hope is that these teams can intervene before a threat becomes a reality and they’re willing to reach the person any way they can, “maybe there’s someone in the community that knows him, maybe there’s another avenue, maybe we can get a pastor involved, maybe we can get a mental health professional involved,” Sheriff Baxter explains.
To file a report through ROCTAC, you can visit their website.