BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Erie County Sheriff John Garcia on Thursday announced the creation of a multi-organizational effort to combat domestic terrorism and other threats in light of the Buffalo supermarket mass shooting.

Garcia announced a group of law enforcement professionals will form a new Behavioral Threat Assessment Team. He called the unit a “central clearinghouse of information.”

“We’ve witnessed many tragedies where the perpetrators have fallen through the cracks,” Garcia said. “… Today, we begin filling those cracks with a specialized team of trained professionals that will analyze data, look for indicators and share information. No one agency, organization or company can manage the undertaking and be successful. That’s why we assembled this team.”

Garcia said the multi-agency group will create a website, mobile app and other methods for community members to make anonymous tips. “If you see it, say something,” Garcia said.

Garcia said an example of what the team will do could be following up with teachers, family and community members after a school threat is made. The person may be released from observation after 24 hours, Garcia said, but he hopes the group will pick up the work after that point.

Garcia’s example is reminiscent of the situation involving the Buffalo shooting suspect, who was given a mental health evaluation after making a threat at his high school last year.

Garcia said in an interview after the shooting that he believed the gunman “slipped through the cracks,” adding, “I could understand the anger from family members because that’s unacceptable.”

“We know that we need to prioritize this kind of public safety here in Erie County,” county legislator April Baskin said. “The Sheriff so eloquently said to me just yesterday, ‘we do this for the county executive when he gets threats, we do this for the president of the United States when he gets threats, but then a young boy or girl at school gets a threat — who follows up for their safety?'”

You can watch the press conference in the video player above.

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Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here

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