Threat Assessment & Management: Public Figure Attacks

Violence targeted at public figures is unfortunately common, but optimistically preventable with the correct measures in place. So what are those measures? It starts with security. Even with decades worth of data, experts will tell you that there is no accurate profile of an assassin. Those same experts will also tell you that individuals who pose a significant threat, rarely make threats. This means that you need to be prepared since there could potentially be no warning signs leading up to an attack. Considering an attack could come at your home, office, at a social event, or during transport between venues, you need to be prepared at all times. And failing to be proactive in your security measures could be a costly mistake. Of the four primary components that contribute to subjects carrying out acts of violence, the most relevant is information regarding the subject’s environment. In other words, if the threatening individual observes a strong, professional sense of security insulating the subject, he is far less likely to attempt an attack.

While security and the preparation for violence are a necessity in today’s society, particularly for public figures, the prevention of violence is always the ideal outcome. This calls for effective Threat Assessment and Management. Threat Assessments are aimed at gathering information necessary to determine if an individual poses a threat. This gathered information is then used to determine how to best prevent the possibility of violence. An investigation then takes place to evaluate the individual’s behaviors. For this reason, it is imperative that all communications and interactions with the subject be documented and processed by Threat Assessment and Management professionals.

So what exactly is considered a threat? The most basic form of a threat is verbally communicating an intention to do someone harm. Threats can be issued verbally, in writing, gestured, or communicated via some form of symbolism. Threats can be deployed directly to the victim or communicated to third parties such as family, friends, or doctors.

While Threat Assessments are meant to measure the likelihood of attack, Threat Management then includes the actions taken to prevent violence. The Los Angeles Police Department Threat Management Unit recommends the following guidelines be followed in all stalking and/or threat cases:

  • Cease all contact with the suspect
  • Contact law enforcement to report all incidents and press for assurance that the assigned detective is notified
  • Keep a detailed log of all incidents to include dates, times, locations, and witnesses to what occurred
  • Save all evidence, such as gifts, letters, notes, photos, voicemail, and text/email messages
  • Allow the police to conduct the investigation without third-party interference

In terms of managing threats, the most important issue, of course, is the client’s well-being. A competent security firm with a competent Threat Assessment and Management department will ensure that the threatening individual is never allowed to reach the client in any capacity, to include mail or phone calls. Shielding the client from these inappropriate communications is an extremely important function carried out by the security detail, one in which allows for peace of mind to remain unimpeded.