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Could a LA-Style Threat Assessment Team Have Thwarted Elliot Rodger’s Shooting Spree?

A few hours after the May shooting rampage by Elliot Rodger in Isla Vista, CA. that left seven people dead, Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) drew attention to his controversial mental health reform bill that is stalled in Congress. He declared, “How many more people must lose their lives before we take action on addressing cases of serious mental illness?” But in Los Angeles County, psychiatric nurse Linda Boyd and the law enforcement-linked outreach teams she leads aren’t waiting for Congress. Instead, she worked out of her cramped Department of Mental Health (DMH) office in the days after the shooting coordinating the department’s efforts to reach out to nearly 100 possibly dangerous young people who’ve made threats in the last several years that they’ve been monitoring. The department also reaches out to the young people’s families and the professionals treating them. It is the nation’s most sophisticated, collaborative program involving law enforcement, school and mental health staff. The School Threat Assessment Response Team Program (START), launched in 2007 after the Virginia Tech massacre, believed to have

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