Published: Oct. 12, 2023

CUPD Deputy Chief Mark Heyart prepares to appear in a training video on lethality assessment.

CUPD Deputy Chief Mark Heyart prepares to appear in a training video on lethality assessment.

CU Boulder recently received nearly $869,0000 in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence (CSPV) will use to increase its efforts to identify threats and prevent violence. The project builds on ongoing work with CUPD, which was also funded by DHS.

The new grant will help the public safety partners build upon and expand their current work, which has sought to develop a new protocol for police officers to use when assessing the risk for violence an individual poses. The Targeted Violence Lethality Assessment Protocol, or TV-LAP, is currently in a pilot phase at CUPD, with officers and new recruits learning to use the 12 questions in the protocol to evaluate the risk a person of concern poses for targeted violence and to identify next steps to take with the person, such as a referral for a threat assessment, a mental health hold or other steps. The new grant seeks to broaden the reach of the TV-LAP to officer recruits across Colorado, in partnership with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.

“We are extremely excited about and supportive of the Colorado Attorney General’s interest in integrating training for the TV-LAP into the curriculum for Peace Officer Standards and Training for law enforcement recruits in Colorado, including right here at CUPD,” said Deputy Chief Mark Heyart. Heyart worked closely with CSPV to create the video training. 

The new grant will also allow CU Boulder to partner with the Colorado Information and Analysis Center to develop and implement a state-wide case management database for threat assessment, which will be used by community and county-level threat assessment teams across Colorado.

“We know from many of the investigations that have followed mass shootings in the U.S. that the attackers frequently had concerned others about their potential for violence and that many attackers had encounters with police or had criminal histories before their violence,” said Sarah Goodrum, research professor with CSPV. 

“Up to now, we have not had a way to track these cases or monitor their progress or decline, so that we might provide the individuals with the referrals and resources needed for support,” she added. 

The new database will allow teams to document, manage and monitor the cases where threatening communications or behaviors have been made in an effort to make sure people are assessed and also connected to the appropriate referrals, support, and resources.  

“We're excited to use the lessons we've learned from the pilot of the TV-LAP with CUPD to benefit police officer recruits across the state,” said Goodrum. “This work will also help us to standardize the way we investigate, refer and support individuals engaging in threatening communications or behavior in local communities across Colorado, with the ultimate goal of preventing violence and promoting safety.”