Cook County Participates in White House Extremism Summit

Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Executive Director Michael Masters joined President Barack Obama, United States Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and leaders from around the U.S. and the world last week at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism.

The three-day summit focused on concrete steps the United States and its partners can take to develop local approaches to stop radicalization, recruitment and incitement to violence, both here and abroad. The talks focused on strategies to build awareness of how radicalization and recruitment that lead to violence occur and how to counter violent extremist narratives with an emphasis on community-led intervention.

“From attacks on synagogues, mosques and churches to the targeting of law enforcement and military personnel – both at home and abroad – we have seen disturbing increases in criminal acts perpetrated by violent extremists. We are working in Cook County to counter these threats, keeping our communities secure and our children safe. This summit gave us the opportunity to share best practices to work towards constructive and meaningful solutions on these issues,” said Masters.

Participants also heard from communities around the U.S. with local pilot programs to countering violent extremism.

In Cook County, the DHSEM is engaging with faith-based organizations, academic institutions and other community organizations to build trust, facilitate dialogue and create collaborative solutions to problems that affect our whole community. The Department’s Countering Targeted Violence Against Our Communities initiative leverages community engagement in training and awareness programs to address issues ranging from active shooters and violent extremists to preparedness for natural disaster response.

“The safety of all of our residents is our top priority. Our participation in this summit will assist us as we continue to proactively work to address the threats that face our county and our nation,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.