Westchester County has launched a new threat assessment center to prevent targeted violence and provide the public with a direct way to report persons or groups they fear may be planning acts of mass violence or domestic terrorism.

The Westchester County Threat Assessment Center (WESTAC) utilizes multi-disciplinary teams consisting of law enforcement, mental health professionals, social workers, school officials and other community stakeholders. The center will receive, assess and manage threats or potential threats of targeted violence and attempt to prevent it from occurring.

County Executive George Latimer announced the initiative during his recent State of the County address.

Latimer said, “In many incidents involving mass shootings or other targeted violence, there were warning signs that went unreported. These include erratic behavior, threatening comments, alarming social media posts or growing hostility toward persons of a different racial or ethnic group. WESTAC’s mission is to identify or assess these potential threats and intervene before any violence occurs.”

Latimer said the public may share information with the Threat Assessment Center anonymously through an encrypted portal or confidentially by phone or email.

The online secure, encrypted portal can be accessed at: https://publicsafety.westchestergov.com/report-threat

By email:

By phone: 914-864-7834

The county executive stressed that anyone who has information about an immediate threat of violence should call 911, not report it through the assessment center.

The creation of WESTAC is the result of an Executive Order issued by Gov. Hochul following a mass shooting in 2022 in a Buffalo supermarket. The order requires all counties in New York to develop Threat Assessment and Management Teams. Latimer said Westchester has received $175,000 in state funding to support these teams and the WESTAC mission.

Acting Public Safety Commissioner Terrance Raynor said persons who have committed acts of mass violence often exhibited warning signs, including:

  • An increasing level of anger or physical aggression toward others;
  • Threats of violence made verbally or on social media;
  • A heightened interest in weapons or explosives;
  • Mental health issues including paranoia or hearing voices.

He encouraged members of the public to alert the assessment center if they see these behaviors in others or become aware of online efforts to radicalize people to commit violence.

“Our ability to prevent targeted violence heavily relies on members of the public who report concerns or potential threats to WESTAC. This can be done anonymously online. The sender’s information is encrypted and is not known to the threat assessment team. If the reporting person does not wish to be anonymous and wants to provide additional assistance, there is a way to do that as well,” Raynor said.

He described targeted violence as any form of violence that is premeditated and directed at specific individuals, groups, or locations. Offenders often select their targets to achieve specific motives, such resolving a grievance or making a political or ideological statement.

Commissioner Michael Orth of the Department of Community Mental Health noted that many of the predictive behaviors for violence are signs of a person who is in emotional crisis or suffering mental health issues. A key goal of the threat assessment process is to identify a person in crisis, intervene to provide help and manage the delivery of services – all to prevent any acts of violence from taking place, he said.

In addition to the Departments of Public Safety and Community Mental Health, current partners in the Threat Assessment Center are Westchester County’s Department of Correction, Department of Probation and Department of Emergency Services; the Westchester County Chiefs of Police Association, Westchester County District Attorney’s Office and FBI; and officials from local school districts, Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES and Southern Westchester BOCES. Additional participants are anticipated in the months ahead.