A community-​​based approach to com­bating ter­rorism and vio­lent extremism, which has been actively cham­pi­oned by North­eastern Uni­ver­sity law pro­fessor Deb­orah Ramirez, recently gained a new pro­po­nent: Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

Ear­lier this month, the White House released a policy paper on the strategy, which, according to Ramirez, gives the United States an impor­tant set of guiding prin­ci­ples and an over­ar­ching frame­work for fighting terrorism.

For instance, one of the plan’s tenets urges law-​​enforcement offi­cials to treat com­mu­nity mem­bers as part­ners rather than suspects.

This new trans­for­ma­tional par­a­digm encour­ages law enforce­ment to meet with the com­mu­nity in order to develop the most effec­tive, effi­cient and col­lab­o­ra­tive strate­gies for coun­tering hate crimes, ter­rorism and vio­lent extremism,” Ramirez said.

The White House echoed Ramirez’s com­mu­nity call. “Pro­tecting Amer­ican com­mu­ni­ties from al-Qaida’s hateful ide­ology is not the work of gov­ern­ment alone,” the White House state­ment said. “Com­mu­ni­ties — espe­cially Muslim Amer­ican com­mu­ni­ties whose chil­dren, fam­i­lies and neigh­bors are being tar­geted for recruit­ment by al-​​Qaida — are often best posi­tioned to take the lead.”

Ramirez, who began building ties with com­mu­nity mem­bers and law-​​enforcement per­sonnel in Boston during the 1980s, cur­rently serves as exec­u­tive director of Northeastern’s Part­nering for Pre­ven­tion and Com­mu­nity Safety Ini­tia­tive. The pro­gram takes a community-​​based approach to counter-​​terrorism, focusing on building part­ner­ships between law enforce­ment and Muslim, Arab, Sikh and South Asian Amer­ican communities.

Com­mu­nity mem­bers who share tips with police — often through trusted fig­ures, such as clergy mem­bers — have helped drive down crime rates in Boston and has become stan­dard prac­tice around the world, Ramirez said.

This model is even more impor­tant when you’re dealing with vio­lent extremism, because you’re not trying to solve a crime after it has been com­mitted,” said Ramirez, who recently dis­cussed community-​​based approaches to com­bating ter­rorism at a con­fer­ence in Birm­ingham, Eng­land, and has tes­ti­fied twice before Con­gress about the approach’s benefits.

You’re looking to pre­vent some­thing, and that is much, much more difficult.”