If you’ve had occasion to read my blogs in the past, you’ll know I often comment on our approach at Hillard Heintze and common client challenges addressing behavioral threat assessment issues here in the United States. However, I was recently reminded that our approach to this critical arena has traction and relevance beyond our borders and on the international stage — sometimes literally.

Last week, I was honored to accept an invitation to address the graduates of the International Criminal Investigative Analysis Fellowship (ICIAF, Inc.) Understudy Program at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

The ICIAF Has an Important Mission

Dedicated to providing a consistent standard of excellence in the service of law enforcement agencies throughout the world, ICIAF members “encourage and maintain the integrity and quality of criminal investigative analysis functions, generate research, and develop new programs designed to meet the critical needs of law enforcement agencies throughout the world.”

ICIAF members have represented many law enforcement agencies throughout the history of the organization, including agencies in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. Notable bodies include the U.K.’s National Crime Agency, Ontario Provincial Police, Queensland Police Force, Dutch National Police Agency and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Behavioral Threat Assessment’s International Value

My presentation to the ICIAF focused on the behavioral threat assessment methodology first established by the U.S Secret Service that our firm has continued to adapt and implement. Much of the reason our robust approach has garnered international interest and acclaim is that it is comprehensive and effective in any environment.

This is partially because we adhere to several guiding principles when we conduct assessments – and we design our training curriculums around these as well. In my presentation, I emphasized what can be described as the foundation of these principles – that targeted violence is the result of an understandable and often discernible pre-attack process of thinking and behavior. 

We cannot predict a person’s behavior – but we can prevent violence or lower its risk using the resources at hand. With this in mind, I emphasized to the ICIAF audience that a threat assessment is not a static process but a pathway of behaviors that can be analyzed and monitored for signs that a subject may be escalating toward potential violence. Steps along this pathway can take many forms — such as an arrest, a personal loss or major life event, a looming financial hurdle or evidence that the subject has discontinued medication for known mental health issues — and be discovered through friends, family and even social media.

These potential markers aren’t unique to individuals in the United States. They’re present in people’s lives in every nation and region. While certain nuances are subject to change, the core methodology and principles of behavioral threat assessment can steer security professionals in the right direction when looking to prevent violence anywhere in the world.