How Planning and Preparedness Saved 80,000 Lives

We all watched in horror last week as Paris suffered a tremendous tragedy when terrorists targeted innocent citizens in multiple locations across the city. People lost their lives as they were caught up in the evil cast by these ruthless extremists. Could this be a warning of how our society is changing? These events were suicide missions somberly exhibited by the self-induced deaths of a number of terrorists. The radicals struck nighttime places of entertainment—restaurants, bars, a concert hall, and a sports stadium. This is the enemy and it is extremely important to understand that they are willing to sacrifice their lives for their cause.

Of all the targeted locations, the stadium was the brass ring. The planned strike entailed three suicide bombers detonating explosives vests inside the venue where 80,000 people were cheering on a soccer game between France and Germany. Authorities have speculated this site was chosen because these two countries represent Western Christianity and the venue offered the potential for a high body count. The actions that security personnel took to prevent this attack contribute to a textbook example of how security planning and emergency preparedness can save lives.

If You Can’t Control Access, You Can’t Control Anything 

You can have every bell, whistle, and the latest, greatest, cutting edge, state-of-the-art, innovative, protective security countermeasure or risk mitigation tool in the world, and none of them will be effective in protecting your venue if you cannot control access. The definitive access control strategy is a disciplined, thorough, and comprehensive approach to filtering all personnel, assets, services, and equipment seeking entry into the site. This paradigm applies to everyone and everything—from employees, part-time workers, and general public to vehicles, mail, and deliveries to drones, helicopters, and unauthorized aircraft. It all begins and ends with controlling access.

The Importance of Gatekeepers

A suicide bomber tried to enter the stadium 15 minutes after the match started. The security officer at the gate followed established protocol to conduct pat downs before allowing access. This security measure prompted the terrorist to back away from the gate and detonate a bomb wrapped with hundreds of nails. The terrorist was killed along with one passerby. About 10 minutes later, another suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest outside another gate, killing only himself. Approximately 20 minutes later, a third terrorist detonated an explosive device outside the stadium, blowing himself up but no one else. Security did its job and prevented what could have been a mind-numbing tragedy.   

Lockdown and Shelter-In-Place

Following the three explosions, the authorities responsible for securing the stadium and protecting its occupants needed to make some critical decisions under tremendous pressure. They decided to keep everyone inside the facility and not allow anyone to leave, determining that the stadium was the safest place to be considering the events in downtown Paris at the time. The people were eventually allowed to leave hours later, but the German soccer team decided to spend most of the night on the field. Mattresses were made available and the team slept inside the stadium until transportation could be arranged for travel to the airport. The site of what could have been one of the most horrific terrorist events in history ended up as a safe haven for a city under siege. 

After Action and Lessons Learned

Professionals in law enforcement, fire, emergency medical, emergency management, and security all advocate learning lessons from real world events. The best example is an After Action Report that assesses security and emergency management plans and documents what went right and what could have been done better. What was done right at the stadium:

1) Searching and screening (pat downs at the gate)

2) Access control (preventing the terrorists from entering)

3) Shelter-in-place (80,000 people kept inside the stadium out of harm’s way)

Lives were saved by the brave individuals responsible for safeguarding the stadium who demonstrated great leadership and decision making in the face of unfathomable adversity.

How to Protect President Donald J. Trump

It seems that Donald J. Trump has taken the fight to the Republican Party and shows no signs of going away as a serious candidate to become the GOP presidential nominee. As a matter of fact, at this point if it were a boxing match, the referee might have to stop the bout because the other contenders are bloodied, battered and beaten. Ever since he jumped into this race, Mr. Trump has been on the attack and the mainstay of his campaign has been to punch and counterpunch his competitors as well as his critics. Just ask John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Hillary Clinton, and Megyn Kelly, to name a few, how it feels to be in the crosshairs of The Donald.

High Profile Equals High Exposure

In today’s political world, these candidates become high-profile targets because of their high exposure. Due in part to the Internet and social media, sensitive information about candidates, such as addresses of private residences, family members, salaries, and business ventures, are accessible to the public. And magnifying this exposure, the candidates are constantly attending public events, especially in Iowa and New Hampshire that require maneuvering through crowds of unscreened people at functions such as state fairs and parades. A preventative protective methodology balances ends, ways, means, and threats to identify and assess risks in these scenarios and opportunistic vulnerabilities. To reach optimum event security, a thorough process of properly trained and prepared security personnel analyze appropriate risk control measures and apply interrelated countermeasures and protective tactics to harden these events.

I Stepped Into a Burning Ring of Fire

Event security planning can be more easily described by explaining the “ring” methodology. The five rings of protection are: (1) the outer perimeter typically secured by public sector personnel at the federal, state, and local level, filtering people, equipment, and vehicles requiring event access; (2) the middle perimeter is the event security assets comprised of private security guards and law enforcement officers screening and controlling entry; (3) the inner perimeter is the restricted areas inside the event site, such as the stage; (4) the fourth perimeter is the intelligence collection and information sharing between the private and public sectors; and (5) the fifth perimeter, the life blood of the event, is cyber security dedicated to critical infrastructure, including electricity, power grid, water, and communications.

If You’re Not First, You’re Last

Armed with the “knowledge and power of the rings,” a best practice-based event security template identifies appropriate countermeasures that will lower the various levels of risk. The countermeasures and design alternatives are specifically tailored to address an event security operational plan, executive protection measures, emergency preparedness policies, interoperable communications, and risk mitigation strategies. I believe the ability to meet security, risk management, and emergency preparedness objectives will—at many critical junctures—rise or fall on whether the security team can execute-to-plan. That is the benchmark and you should never settle for anything other than the highest level of execution and performance when designing your event security and executive protection strategies.

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Best practices in executive protection should be benchmarked to determine the most effective and efficient operations suitable for the candidate and the event. Following how the best executive protection programs keep apprised of emerging threats while also staying informed of industry trends in countering these risks will strengthen your own strategy. The advance work that precedes the arrival of the candidate is just as, if not more, important than the security employed during the event. A laser-focused emphasis needs to be placed on the preparations, strategies, instructions, and responses, so that if any crisis were to occur, all contingencies are in place.

Even though many of us are not experienced with protecting a presidential candidate as he or she moves through large-scale event venues, the tenants of rock solid executive protection and event security plans are still paramount to your own specific needs and situations.

Put Security in the Pole Position for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing

The roar of engines will be heard this week from the world renowned Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) as drivers prepare for the Memorial Day weekend tradition of the annual running of the Indianapolis 500. Of course with cars racing at speeds of 200+ mph, serious safety and emergency management concerns are intrinsic to this sport. Car racing is one of the few events where more attention needs to be paid to the participants than the spectators. That being said, a tremendous amount of security goes into the design, creation, and implementation of a holistic security plan for the protection of the fans as well as the racers. I offer some of the major areas that need to be addressed, which are just a few of the challenges that need to be detected, deterred, delayed, and denied.

Letting the Trojan Horse Inside the City Gates 

Just imagine not only being allowed to bring your own cooler to a sporting event but also packing it with almost anything except for firearms, hand grenades, illegal drugs, and glass bottles (which can be used as a projectile if your driver drops a transmission). Yes, the IMS allows quite a liberal assortment of items, inevitably raising the bar on the issues associated with protecting the site. Because of this policy, a strong focus on preparing the security officers and law enforcement personnel manning the entrance gates starts with sufficient training in the proper searching and screening techniques to identify contraband and prohibited items. You cannot expect your gate staff to know how to inspect containers and packages without being taught what to look for and how to look for it. Also, they’ll need the necessary equipment such as flashlights, batons, metal detectors, vehicle mirrors, and if possible, drug-sniffing and/or explosive-detection canines. With the proper resources along with adequate education and awareness, your access points will be hardened along with the venue.

Gentleman, Start Your Engines—but Please Don’t Light a Match!    

Did you know that on the day of the Indy 500 race more than 10,000 gallons of fuel are on the property? The primary security issue here is two-fold: securing the fuel tanks against destruction and having a plan in place if a toxic spill requires cleanup. Adding fuel to the fire (pun intended) is the heat in late May and the close proximity to the fans of Gasoline Alley that stores all of this hazardous material. The best ways to protect the storage containers boil down to the implementation of various security measures like fencing, barriers, video surveillance, locked access points, sensory devices, alarms, and the posting of security personnel. The HAZMAT mission is to respond to a release of a hazardous material, recognize the situation as one requiring specialized assistance, have the capability to contain the spill, and possess the skills and resources necessary to render the situation safe—another example of the need for proper staffing and skill sets on site, this time to mitigate a chemical or biological incident.

Protecting Life in the Fast Lane

With more than 300,000 people attending the race, thousands of staff working the event, and hundreds of racers and pit crew participating in the 500-mile battle, the IMS needs to be prepared to provide general first aid and more serious medical attention as well as deal with a possible mass casualty situation. This potential incident requires proper planning and preparation including a pre-designated triage area to sort injured people into groups based on their need for, or likely benefit from, immediate medical treatment. Because the designated area must accommodate a large number of people, the infield is the likely location for a triage area as well as a decontamination (DECON) area where individuals can be cleansed to remove contaminants such as micro-organisms, hazardous materials, chemicals, and radioactive substances. Coordination with HAZMAT ensures the proper staffing and supplies of disinfection, antisepsis, and sterilization supplies are available.

So, Is That All We Need to Protect the Old Brickyard?

No, that’s not all that is needed to protect this historic venue affectionately known as the Old Brickyard. I wish it were that easy to only address access control, emergency medical, and hazardous materials to ensure safety. But of course we must consider crowd control, bomb sweeps, alcohol management, ticket scalping, drug trafficking, and lost children, just to name a few. A major event like the Indy 500 requires year-round planning. After the winner takes his or her victory chug of milk, safety, security, and law enforcement personnel will convene an after action meeting to talk through all of the measures that were implemented and candidly acknowledge what went well and what could have gone better. Most professionals agree that experience matters—you’ll learn more from being on the ground during one of these events than you will from reading a manual. After being involved in the security operations for an event like the Indy 500, you’ll be sure to see the checkered flag as you prepare for your next event.

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Run For The Roses But Not For Your Life

The beginning of May welcomes the first jewel of the Triple Crown of thoroughbred horse racing. Otherwise known as the Run for the Roses, the Kentucky Derby is probably the most famous horse race in the world and draws spectators from across the globe. With the Preakness in Baltimore and the Belmont Stakes in New York completing the trifecta, these prominent equestrian events represent tremendous undertakings from a security perspective. The media spotlight alone raises the stakes because it offers a global platform for nefarious activity. A terrorist group could place one of these venues in its crosshairs, motivated by the worldwide coverage associated with these pinnacles of the racing world.

It’s More Than Just a Horse Race  

After personally performing security work at some prestigious horse racing events, I am familiar with the nuances and dynamics that are indigenous to this culture and environment. At a minimum, a week-long series of parties, galas, and functions precedes race day. As corporate sponsors wine and dine their most valuable clients, these increased entertainment occasions call for increased security. Executive protection specialists, armed and unarmed security officers, and off-duty law enforcement are the usual suspects enlisted to safeguard and protect the people attending and the properties playing host to these gatherings.

What Happens in the Infield Stays in the Infield  

If you have never been to the infield for one of these events, you should add it to your bucket list. As this sub-culture takes on a life of its own, the infield performances might frighten the faint of heart. I have witnessed the following: mud wrestling (clothing optional), intimacy (yup, that kind of intimacy), drug usage (enough to fail a 10 panel drug test), alcohol poisoning (e.g., too many Mint Juleps, among other things), physical altercations (donnybrooks), and even running porta potty roof top races (just go to You Tube and search Kentucky Derby Porta Potty Run). With all of this extracurricular activity comes a number of security and safety issues that should be considered in emergency preparedness planning.

Be Prepared—And I’m not Talking About the Boy Scouts 

Adequate staffing of emergency medical personnel on site to treat people is a top priority. After all, mud wrestlers will need first aid to treat their wounds and infections! All kidding aside, these activities can and probably will require additional safety and security attention. Obviously, not all intimacy is consensual so treatment options must be available for any victim of sexual assault. The perfunctory drug activity at these events has typically resulted in a number of overdoses so security and medical personnel must be prepared with the proper medications. As unconsciousness, choking, and vomiting are signs of alcohol overindulgence, security professionals need to stand ready to attend to victims in an expeditious manner. The Porta Potty Run will undoubtedly produce a number of broken limbs as the combatants fall from the tops of these structures, so ambulances need to be available to transport the injured to local hospitals.

Yeah, but What About the Rest of the Site?

We must also turn our attention to the security concerns of the horses, jockeys, trainers, owners, families, celebrities, public officials, workers, and, of course, spectators. Although they won’t present the same issues as their friends in the infield, the people in a packed grandstand also deserve a safe and secure experience. Crowd control, alcohol management, seat integrity (ensuring patrons are in the right seats), pick pocketing, counterfeiting, and scalping are typical security challenges associated with a large-scale sporting event.

Other issues jockeying for position in your list of security concerns are traffic control, parking lot management, vehicle access, delivery screening, and an emergency evacuation plan in case of a weather event or bomb threat. All of these respective areas need to be addressed and countered with a specific plan that has been properly vetted by the multitude of public and private entities responsible for protecting the people, assets, and property at the event. By recognizing and tackling these moving parts, you can bet your event security plan will be a hands down winner just like at the Run for the Roses.

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Court Storming: Who’ll Stop the Rain?

With the NBA playoffs in full swing and March Madness behind us, now is a good time to take a closer look at the cultural phenomenon known as Court Storming. In light of what recently transpired at some NCAA games, court storming has become part of the collegiate experience and ranks right up there with tailgating, toga parties, and beer pong.

As a former Director of Security for the NBA, I was only seriously concerned about this crowd control issue during the Finals and, more specifically, following the deciding game for the championship. Because any post-game revelry was definitely a serious security and safety concern, we took the appropriate steps to prepare for this occurrence. It is important to understand that court storming cannot be stopped, but it can be controlled. With the proper preparation and contingencies in place, risk to the players, coaches, staffs, employees, and spectators can be mitigated.

The first step in planning for this event was training our security and usher personnel to protect the court. Prior to the opening of the gates, we assembled all of our event personnel and rehearsed how we would secure the floor. The plan centered around two perimeters—an outer perimeter to control access to the court and an inner perimeter to protect the teams and their family members. We used a nylon rope as a barricade that we extended around the entire court as soon as the game ended. Serving as rope holders, security and usher staff were repositioned from their assigned posts. In order to effectively exercise our plan, we made the determination to pool our resources and reallocate our assets to the floor. I am a strong advocate of power in numbers because when you have an arena filled with 18,000 fans, you have to be equipped to stem the tide if they decide to rush the court.

The next step in our planning process was to maintain what we had established. Positioning myself inside the inner perimeter, I was able to observe the chaos and frenzy of the rabid fans celebrating a world championship. Fueled by euphoria and mixed with a little alcohol, this dynamic always presented a formidable foe and an omnipresent threat. The image of the little boy with his finger in the dike comes to mind, because as one hole is plugged, another ominously appears. If I saw areas on our rope line being breached, my planned response was to dispatch extra security to those locations from a cadre of personnel I had designated for that exact role. Because my contingency planning had addressed this concern, we were adequately prepared to react and respond to this hazard.

The final planning step was to get the teams and families off the court, and we used our inner perimeter to facilitate their movement. The use of the nylon rope offered the advantage of moving the barricade and turning the secure zone into a fluid, mobile, adaptable space. Our personnel were able to escort the players, their families, and other people off the court by creating a temporary corridor from the floor to the back-of-the-house. Safety was paramount in this operation for both participants and spectators. By separating the players from the fans, we actually reduced the possibility of an accidental injury or an intentional criminal act, such as a physical altercation.

After addressing the security measures required to troubleshoot court storming in real time, I’d like to focus on what can be done before and after a game to minimize such an activity. Starting with what can be done before a game, a comprehensive public service campaign can educate the general public about the arena’s policy on court storming. If fans understand that this type of activity is prohibited, violators will be prosecuted, and ticket revocation enforced, then people might think twice before they decide to enter the field of play. Video messages on the scoreboard, announcements over the public address system, posted signage, website material, and specific text on the back of the ticket all offer different means to communicate that court storming poses a safety threat that will be dealt with swiftly, sternly, and decisively.

The after component of containing court storming involves evaluating how this transgression is reviewed and investigated post-incident. By interviewing staff to collect evidence and reviewing the tape that documents the event, it may be possible to identify patrons who have clearly violated the published protocols and in some jurisdictions broken the law, which could result in a charge of trespassing. As cliché as it might sound, it can be beneficial for the sake of security to make an example of some of these individuals and prosecute them to the full extent of the law.

As I stated before, there is no panacea to eliminate court storming, but remedies can be put into place to plan, prepare, respond, and recover from these types of events. By creating security policies, educating staff, conducting ongoing training, maintaining public awareness, identifying discernible boundaries, and communicating consequences, you can put a collaborative and holistic process in place to counter this risk.

Robert Allenby’s 19th Hole Drives Case for Protection

What happened to Robert Allenby could happen to anyone, but when an incident involves a high net worth professional athlete like Allenby—ESPN ranks him 27th in all-time top money leaders at more than $27 million—the importance of personal protection escalates. Whether these multi-millionaires like it or not, high profile often invariably accompanies high net worth. Thanks to the ubiquitous presence of social media and the Internet, every moment in the lives of our socially-engineered celebrities is played out on a world stage. The exposure becomes more magnified and noteworthy whenever even the slightest hint of scandal or some type of wrongdoing surfaces. The reported tawdry combination of alcohol, injury, robbery, kidnapping, and strippers makes for a scintillating backdrop to a viral headline-grabbing storyline.

For the last several weeks, we have watched the saga of professional golfer Robert Allenby played out in the media. While some of the details of the events still remain unknown, Honolulu police recently confirmed the arrest of Patrick Owen Harbison on second-degree identity theft, second-degree attempted theft, and unauthorized possession of confidential information. Harbison was identified on surveillance video using Allenby’s credit cards. According to Allenby, over $20,000 in fraudulent purchases had been charged to his stolen credit cards.

Much of that night is still a mystery, but we do know that on the night after missing the cut for the Sony Open, Allenby went to the Amuse Wine Bar. Videotape shows him leaving the bar at 11:06 p.m., but Allenby does not recall the incidents that led up to him waking up in a nearby park without his wallet, credit cards, or phone, and with fresh cuts to his face and head. After returning to his hotel, Allenby posted images of his bloodied face on Facebook, claiming he had been beaten, robbed, and thrown from the trunk of a car; however, he later clarified that a homeless woman who helped him escape from the park had related those events. At this point, the police have not linked Harbison to a kidnapping plot and are not pursuing any other leads related to this aspect of the case.

With the benefit of hindsight, which always gives us perfect 20/20 vision, I’ve been able to dissect this situation to suggest some risk mitigation strategies to implement that would help to avoid a repeat performance. Let’s start with the victim in this case, Mr. Allenby. As I alluded to earlier, with fame and fortune comes media exposure and personal disclosure. The result is little to no privacy when in the public eye, which in this case was at a drinking establishment. The first rules of safety for everyone from college students to high profile individuals are to be aware of what you are consuming and never let your drink out of your sight. Someone could have spiked Allenby’s wine with some kind of drug that caused him to lose consciousness—and his wallet.

Another consideration is to surround yourself with people you can trust, who have your back, and who would never let something like this happen. Reportedly, Allenby’s caddie was with him, but that individual is better equipped for handing him a club to escape the dangers of the rough than spotting predators preying on the rich and famous. Personal protection starts with employing the services of a security professional who has experience in executive protection, protective advance measures, intelligence collection, and counter surveillance, which all combine to mitigate personal risk.

Here are some examples of what could have been done to safeguard Allenby from the unfortunate set of circumstances of that night in Honolulu:

Executive Protection

By assigning an executive protection specialist to accompany the protectee when in public areas, a trained professional is able to identify someone who is focusing an unusual amount of attention and interest toward the protectee or exhibiting signs of potential harm. Also, a person who is working—and not socializing—sends a clear and compelling message to the bad guys that they may want to reconsider their plans. This person should be a highly-skilled professional trained in protective security responsibilities, including access control measures and practices and the ability to screen and filter anyone seeking access to the protected individual.

Advance Measures

An advance provides structure to account for all events that comprise a schedule and can be conducted if plans to go to places like a restaurant, theater, shopping mall, or pubic venue are known ahead of time. Typically, the site is visited, points-of-contacts established, emergency egress determined, and familiarity with the location attained. Now if something bad happens, contingencies are in place to properly respond to and recover from the incident. To reach optimum protection, a thorough process is used to analyze appropriate risk control measures and implement interrelated countermeasures and protective security methods.

Intelligence Collection

Intelligence collection is mainly done through liaison with the proper authorities, specifically federal, state, or local law enforcement. These entities are invaluable resources to provide relevant information that could impact the person being protected or the event attended. Maybe there’s a planned demonstration and the police advise that the last time this group protested multiple people incurred serious injuries. Armed with this intelligence, the function can be avoided, saving some wear and tear on the client. In addition to this knowledge, appropriate and practical countermeasures and solutions can be offered to discreetly enhance the level of security while at the same time reducing the level of risk.

Counter Surveillance

Counter surveillance is especially important because it is one of the few security measures that allows for threats to be dealt with before they can develop into full-scale attacks. One common denominator of all the different potential threats—whether from lone wolves, militant groups, common criminals, or the mentally disturbed—is that those planning an operation monitor their target in advance. Regardless of the length of time surveillance is performed, the criminal or terrorist conducting it is exposed, and therefore vulnerable to detection. Because of this, counter surveillance—the process of detecting and mitigating hostile surveillance—is an important, though often overlooked, element of protective security operations.

The Boehner Case Speaks to the Need for a Threat Management Plan

The recent arrest of a country club bartender who threatened to kill House Speaker John Boehner makes a strong case for the need for organizations to design and implement an effective threat management plan. After Michael Robert Hoyt was indicted this past January, details of his life, mental health, work history, access to weapons, and regular proximity to a public figure have become available that present a situation in which an established comprehensive threat management plan might have avoided.  An effective threat management plan is constructed and implemented by multiple parties with different, but complimentary backgrounds. An experienced investigator, mental health physician, human resources professional, and protective security expert are examples of the applicable skill sets required to build the plan.

Often serving drinks to Boehner and other high profile members, Hoyt worked as a bartender at the Wetherington Country Club in West Chester, Ohio for five years until he was fired last October after several members complained about him. After his arrest, police searched his home and found an assault rifle magazine, ammunition, and a notebook containing “John Boehner” and “Ebola” among other writings, as well as lists of country club members. Arrest reports state that Hoyt was visibly upset about being fired, which might have prompted him to send an 11-page blog naming Boehner as the devil to his ex-girlfriend, neighbor, and father as well as emails to Debbie Boehner that mentioned his firing. In these communications, he claimed that he had the access and opportunity to poison Boehner’s wine if he had chosen to do so.

Other recovered documents state that Hoyt had been hearing voices though his car speakers telling him that Boehner was evil, eventually leading him to call 911 and ask the operator to tell his father he was sorry. When police went to his residence, he volunteered to be taken to the hospital for psychiatric evaluation. Hoyt had been previously treated for a psychotic episode two years ago and prescribed medication, which he stopped taking after six months.

As part of its protective responsibilities, my former employer, the United States Secret Service (USSS), has long held the view that the best protective strategy is prevention. In keeping with that tactic, their threat management efforts identify, assess, and control persons who have the interest and ability to mount attacks against USSS protected individuals. The Exceptional Case Study Project (ECSP), the USSS’s first operationally relevant study on assassins and near-assassins, was completed in 1998. The ECSP was a five-year operational analysis of the thinking and behavior of individuals who assassinated, attacked, or approached to attack a prominent person of public status in the United States. It employed an incident-focused, behaviorally-based approach consisting of a systematic analysis of investigative reports, criminal justice records, medical records, and other source documents, as well as in-depth interviews with subjects.

The ECSP determined assassinations and attacks on public officials and figures are the products of understandable and often discernible processes of thinking and behavior. Most people who attack others perceive the attack as the means to a goal or a way to solve a problem. An individual’s motives and selection of a target are directly connected. Ideas of assassination develop over weeks, months, even years, and are stimulated by television and newspaper images, movies, and books. Potential assassins seek out historical information about assassination, the lives of attackers, and the protectors of their targets. They may deliberate about which target—and sometimes targets—to choose. They also may transfer their interest from one target to another. After selecting a target, attackers and near-lethal attackers develop plans and sometimes rehearse before mounting an attack.

When conducting a threat assessment, protectors and investigators must also pay attention to the individual’s choice of a potential target, assuming the individual has selected a target. The following questions should be addressed:

How well is the target known to the individual? Is the individual acquainted with the target’s work and lifestyle patterns?

Is that information readily available, as in the case of many public officials or highly visible public figures?

How vulnerable is the target to an attack? What changes in the target’s lifestyle or living arrangements could make attack by the individual more difficult or less likely?

How sophisticated is the target about the need for caution?

How concerned about safety is the target? How concerned are those around the target (such as family or staff)?

Let’s see how these individual characteristics, investigative questions, information analysis, and management options apply in the Boehner case. First, the potential attacker had an evident process of thinking and behavior—he blamed the target for the loss of his job and the Ebola virus. Second, the investigation uncovered two red flags—history of mental illness and access to weapons. Third, he communicated with friends, family members, and Boehner’s spouse about his interest in the target. Finally, and the most concerning, the management component was missing because nothing was done to “manage” Hoyt until after the plot was revealed.

We can all learn from this incident and apply it to our own particular situations. We don’t have to fear an imminent assassination to understand the danger of a disgruntled employee and the importance of performing our due diligence in background screenings, proper investigative processes, and assessment capabilities that identify the initial signs of potential threats. When you recognize that a threat management plan must be in place to prevent harm from being done, have access to these resources, and are knowledgeable to the required multi-disciplinary acumen, you have a strong foundation upon which to build your own threat management plan.