The FBI has helped disrupt or prevent nearly 150 shootings and violent attacks this year, some of them by steering potential gunmen toward mental health professionals, the Associated Press reports. The FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit has been working with state and local authorities to profile potential offenders with the goal of preventing violent crimes like mass shootings. The “prevented” shootings and violent attacks from January through November of this year represent 148 cases that a division of that unit, the Behavioral Threat Assessment Center, has conferred on during 2013.
That number is up 33 percent from 2012, unit chief Andre Simmons told AP. In the past year, this unit has received about three new cases a week referred by federal, state, local and campus law enforcement, schools, businesses and houses of worship. The center is staffed by FBI agents and analysts, the U.S. Capitol Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives and a psychiatrist. Depending on how far a person is on the “pathway to violence,” the center makes recommendations. That could include an arrest, if the person is involved in illegal activity, but most often, it’s getting that person access to mental health care. Simmons gave an example of a “man at a university who began to display bizarre behaviors coupled with an increasing interest in firearms,” who ended up committed to a psychiatric facility.