Targeted Violence/Active Threat Resource Webpage

Targeted Violence/Active Threat Resource Webpage

Targeted violence and active threats are not confined to one geographic region or a single type of attack. Groups that are often targeted by violence include racial, ethnic, or religious groups. Target groups may also be chosen on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity; however, in many cases perpetrators choose victims arbitrarily.

Targeted violence, which leads to the need for a police response to the active threat, can be presented in a multitude of ways, not limited to firearms, but also including vehicles, knives, and explosives among other weapons. Examples include

  • Henry Pratt Warehouse Active Shooter, Aurora, IL, in 2019
  • Vehicular Attack at Westminster Bridge in 2017
  • Vehicular and Knife Attack at the London Bridge in 2017
  • Vehicular Attack in Nice, France, in 2016
  • Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013

To help law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve prevent targeted violence, mitigate its harm, and recover from its terrible effects, the International Association of Chiefs of Police formed a task force of law enforcement leaders who had experienced acts of targeted violence within their communities to provide insight and lessons learned. They convened several times in late 2019 to hear expert testimony on the pathway to violence, threat assessment, target hardening, deterrence, the latest research on targeted violence, and resources for local law enforcement, among other topics. This resource page is designed to bring together in one place some of the best thinking, most important lessons, and most helpful resources for police leaders, their officers, and communities. Each of the topics presented here are designed to aid in the prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery from targeted violence/active threats.

Before an Attack

Chiefs and agencies want to be ahead of targeted violence attacks to save their communities from death, destruction, and trauma. As much as possible, agencies should focus on what can be done before an attack to intercept active threats and reduce the likelihood of violence. The resources below will help guide agencies through improving their prevention efforts where needed.

During an Attack

It goes without saying that law enforcement cannot be everywhere. Whether information involving “red flags” is not reported to law enforcement or a targeted violence perpetrator never divulges his plans to anyone, plenty of past attacks have been perpetrated by those unknown to law enforcement agencies. Should chiefs find themselves sending officers to an active threat situation, these resources can assist in their response.

After an Attack

There are few community-wide events that are more traumatic than targeted violence attacks. In recent years, these have mostly taken the form of small-scale attacks like mass shootings or knife attacks. Active threat incidents involve large-scale disasters too, such as the September 11 terrorist attacks; the Madrid, Spain, train bombing in 2004; the school bombing in Peshawar, Pakistan, in 2014; the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing in the United States; and countless others. Should law enforcement executives find themselves leading their officers and communities in recovery and healing in the wake of a targeted violence attack, large or small, the resources below may be of assistance.

Expansive Studies, Reports and Guides




Enhancing the Response to Hate Crimes Report and Action Agenda

IACP, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

This report and action agenda, developed by law enforcement leaders, civil rights advocates, and academia, offer concrete strategies to institutionalize an enhanced response to hate crimes and hate incidents.

Campus Attacks: Targeted Violence Affecting Institutions of Higher Education


This report offers preliminary findings from a review of 272 incidents of violence that affected institutes of higher education in the United States from 1900 through 2008.

A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013


In 2014 the FBI initiated a study of active shooter incidents to provide federal, state, and local law enforcement with data so they can better understand how to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from these incidents.

Active Shooter Incidents in the United States from 2000 to 2018


This document contains a list of active shooter incidents in the United States that have been identified by the FBI from 2000 through the end of 2018.

Mass Attacks in Public Spaces - 2017


This report examines 28 incidents to identify key themes for enhancing threat assessment and investigative practices.

Mass Attacks in Public Spaces – 2018


This report analyzes mass attacks carried out in public spaces for the purpose of identifying key information that will enhance efforts to prevent these types of attacks.

Mass Attacks in Public Spaces – 2019


This latest study examines 34 targeted attacks that occurred in public or semi-public spaces from January through December 2019. This report is the agency’s third in a series of annual reports that have examined mass attacks in the United States, during which three or more individuals were harmed.

Strategic Approaches to Preventing Multiple Casualty Violence: Report on the National Summit on Multiple Casualty Shootings

DHS, COPS, Johns Hopkins University

The recommendations included in this report reflect the major themes that emerged from the National Summit on Multiple Casualty Shootings, focusing on those that the majority of participants supported. The discussion points in this report reflect the participant’s debates and dialogue throughout the three-day event.

Planning and Response to an Active Shooter: An Interagency Security Committee Police and Best Practices Guide

Interagency Security Committee

The policy outlined herein is meant to establish baseline agency/department protocols across the federal government for active shooter situations.

Murder and Extremism in the United States in 2019


This report provides a review of murder and extremism in the United States in 2019, to include key findings and recommendations.

Mass Violence in America: Causes, Impacts and Solutions 

National Council for Behavioral Health

This report addresses the problem of mass violence in the United States and, specifically, the extent to which mental illness is or is not contributing to this social pathology.

The Police Response to Active Shooter Incidents 


This report summarizes the state of the field as of 2014. The Police Executive Research Forum conducted research on these issues and held a one-day summit in Washington, DC, in which an overflow crowd of more than 225 police chiefs and other officials discussed the changes that have occurred, and where they are going from here.


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