Countering Violent Extremism: A Community Partnership Approach

In February 2011, the author wrote an article, “It Can and Does Happen Here: Somali Youth with Terrorist Ties in the Twin Cities.”1 The article identifies an emerging issue law enforcement faced in Hennepin County involving international terrorist organizations targeting Somali youth for radicalization and recruitment. In this earlier article, the author highlighted three lessons learned as the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office started building its countering violent extremism (CVE) strategy to address the issues of radicalization and recruitment of Somali youth: (1) Homegrown terrorism is a real threat for every community; (2) Build communities of trust and use community-oriented policing effectively; and (3) A vigilant public must assist law enforcement. Since that article, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office has had many accomplishments in implementing its CVE strategy.

Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office has shared its story at multiple U. S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) workshops, panels, and community roundtables and U.S. Department of Justice meetings. Its federal partners have been instrumental in supporting the efforts by providing resources like the Strategic Implementation Plan for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States and the CVE Training Resources web portal on the Homeland Security Information Network.2 John Cohen, Senior Advisor to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, commented, “Hennepin County’s holistic approach to CVE balances the competing forces of enforcement and community outreach, and through Sheriff Stanek’s actions in Hennepin County and his service with multiple national organizations, Hennepin County is at the forefront of the CVE effort.