NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — FBI Director James Comey said Friday the agency has stepped up training for police departments around the country after the Newtown school shooting and is trying to increase its understanding of warning signs before such tragedies.
Comey, speaking at the FBI in New Haven, said the agency’s behavioral analysis unit is trying ‘‘to think in a better way about what indicators there might be that would come before such behavior so that responders can deal with it.’’ Comey, who praised law enforcement’s response to the Newtown school shooting a year ago, said the agency is providing training to state and local first responders to help them respond effectively.
The gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, shot his way into the school last Dec. 14 and killed 20 children and six educators with a semi-automatic rifle. He also killed his mother in their Newtown home before driving to the school, where he committed suicide as police arrived.
‘‘My understanding is that law enforcement handled Newtown, unbelievable tragedy that it was, incredibly well,’’ Comey said.
Comey also praised law enforcement’s response to three recent college lockdowns in Connecticut. In the latest incident, a University of New Haven student was arrested carrying two handguns on campus and had an assault rifle and bullets in his car, authorities said Wednesday. Police said they also found 2,700 rounds of ammunition and newspaper clippings of the Colorado theater shooting at his home. His attorney declined to comment.
No one was injured in those incidents.
Comey, who became FBI director in September, emphasized the importance of the public’s role in reporting concerns.
‘‘In nearly every case that we encounter of a mass shooting, there is something that appeared in social media or behavior in a community, in a religious institution or an educational institution, that if someone had said something about it, we might have had a clue to someone who is bent on doing something horrific,’’ Comey said. ‘‘Listen to those hairs that are rising on the back of your neck when you see something, just say something.’’
Comey expressed concerns about homicides in Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford, saying a new task force would help address the violence. He also said cybercrime is a growing threat and budget cuts are leading to the elimination of 3,500 positions at the agency as well as furloughs.
‘‘We are collateral damage in a budget dispute that doesn’t have anything to do with the FBI’s mission,’’ Comey said, adding he hopes Congress can find a resolution.