Frequent phone calls. Strange cars driving by. Unwanted emails. Unfortunately, all too often, a client informs us they are the recipient of unwelcomed, inappropriate, bizarre and often threatening communication. They want help and they want it fast. First, is this person an immediate threat to themselves, their family, or their employee? Second, how can they get this person to stop? Third, what should they do next? Answering these questions requires an integrated approach to many disciplines – from behavioral threat assessment, due diligence investigation, mental health evaluation and surveillance to residential and office security assessment, protective intelligence gathering and law enforcement liaison.
Evaluating the Threat
First and foremost, we ensure the family is immediately safe. We then begin our formal behavioral threat assessment of the subject. Our approach – i.e., evaluating the “dangerousness” of an individual and whether they are on a pathway to violence – is based on leading, well-defined protocols established by the U.S. Secret Service. During the process it is critical to gather information to determine if the subject has the interest, motive, intention and capability of mounting attacks against our client, family or anyone else.
With investigations and security risk management practices, we are uniquely situated to conduct these assessments by pooling resources from both areas; it truly is a whole team effort.
Cracking the Code: Investigation’s Role
Our investigations team takes out its proverbial magnifying glasses and digs deep into what they can find on the individual through public records search. Where have they lived and worked? Do they have a criminal or civil history showing this sort of behavior in the past, such as orders of protection, arrests for violent crimes, or a bankruptcy showing they owe money to mental health professionals? What’s on their social media profile? Do they display evidence of obsessive behavior? Do they have access to weapons? Do they have any responsible family members we can contact who might help shed light on their background, personality, intent, behavior and whereabouts?
Physical Assessment: Managing the Risk
Our security risk management team assesses the client’s residence or office environment and advises him or her on enhanced protective measures that should be taken. They locate the harasser’s home and conduct a discreet site assessment. Do they live in a home with the blinds tightly drawn or are they living in a relative’s basement? Additionally, the team reaches out to other people who may have been victims in the past. This helps us better understand the harasser’s history and possible behavioral pattern.
Managing the Threat
The final stage of the assessment is sharing our findings with a mental health professional experienced in threat assessments. As a team, we determine the dangerousness of this individual, the threat he or she may present our client, and the best approach for our client to take.
In some cases, this might be through our contact with the harasser’s family member who has agreed to confront the harasser and encourage them to seek professional help. This is often a best-case scenario for both parties involved. For the family, it allows them to try to take care of a situation they have likely been dealing with for a long time without police involvement. For the client, it means they don’t have to file a police report or potentially face the harasser in court.
In some cases, that is not enough. When this happens, we help the client navigate our court system and get the legal protection they need.
After the evaluation has been completed and we determine the best way to get the harasser to stop the behavior, the client wants to know: what’s next? There is no single solution for any threat assessment. We take all the information we have identified so far and create solutions that are best for that case. In some instances, that means additional monitoring of the subject’s social media profiles, or reaching out to that relative every few months to ensure they are monitoring the harasser. In other cases, it means staying alert, but no further action is required.
No one ever asks to be harassed. Nevertheless, if someone chooses you, your immediate goal needs to be to protect your family by assessing the threat and mitigating it. This assessment requires a structured approach with tailored solutions.