Researchers to Gauge Extent of Political Violence Against Public Officials

Threats of violence against public officials is a growing phenomenon. Federal law enforcement officials warn that domestic extremism is one of the country’s biggest security threats. Now, researchers will attempt to gauge the extent of the problem in one of the state’s largest counties, KPBS reports.  

San Diego Mesa College political science professor Carl Luna is spearheading a poll of 300 San Diego County elected officials to assess if they’re receiving more threats, and whether those threats are becoming more violent. About a third of officials have responded so far. The survey is being conducted by the Violence, Inequality and Power Lab at the University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice.

In addition to probing severity, the researchers will examine how threats of violence have impacted decision making by public officials. The survey will ask whether the risks have caused officials to avoid taking certain positions.

San Diego is a good place to start. Last year, the home of County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and former Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez was set ablaze as part of a suspected arson attack. The motive is still a mystery.