Do you remember that shooting at the Taft High School in California last year? Students tweeted about the likelihood that their classmate Brian Oliver would “shoot up the school.”

  • Tweets by one of the students also indicated she had to talk with a school administrator the previous year about rumors that Oliver had a “hit list” and made threats of violence. The other student tweeted about a specific student that Oliver was focusing on.
  • Less than a month later, Bryan Oliver entered the school and fired a round from a shotgun at the student mentioned in the tweet and a second round at students trying to flee.

When you have spent your entire career in protective intelligence, these are the stories that stay with you –the ones that hurt the most because you know that information, uncovered early and forwarded to the right person, could have saved a life. In this instance, remarkably, no one was killed. This time.

Protective Intelligence Can Save a Life – and Help Avoid Lawsuits

Targeted violence is any incident of violence where a known or knowable attacker selects a particular target prior to their violent attack.[1]  Following the Navy Yard shooting, the victims’ families sued the Navy and the Department of Veteran Affairs, alleging they overlooked red flags that should have alerted them to the troubled history of the shooter. This could inspire the families of victims killed in similar active shooter incidents to seek legal advice and file lawsuits. Companies must understand the value of protective intelligence and conducting behavioral threat assessments and how these prevention strategies can help identify a potential attacker’s intentions and enable intervention before an incident occurs.

Protective Intelligence, Threat Assessment and Targeted Violence

A few months ago, two of my colleagues – Hillard Heintze Senior Vice Presidents Mike Crane and Rob Davis – and I were sharing notes on a client matter. We were in the process of investigating a threat to one of our client’s principals and determining whether the subject actually posed a threat and was capable of an act of violence. While the three of us have pursued different career paths to our current positions – and you can read up on Mike and Rob’s bios here – we complement one another very well at the intersection of three areas: (1) protective intelligence; (2) threat assessment; and (3) preventing acts of targeted violence, from active shooter events to workplace violence incidents. Each one of us knows firsthand from experiences over the last few decades that early insight into the mind of a potential attacker is enormously critical. I’m talking about prevention – an area that isn’t well understood by most police officers and other law enforcement experts whose training typically focuses on what happens only after a crime has occurred.

Join Us for a Special ASIS Webinar

This collaboration extends beyond our client work. As part of our support of ASIS International and ASIS Online’s commitment to education, Mike, Rob and I will be presenting a webinar on July 23 on “The Role of Protective Intelligence in Managing Threats Associated with Targeted Violence and the Active Shooter.” We thought you – or members of your team – might be interested in attending. Here’s the link. The registration fee is $99 for ASIS members and $129 for non-members. That’s much less expensive than having us travel to your offices and deliver an in-person presentation to your key personnel. Which we can do as well, of course. My suggestion? Attend the course and decide whether it is relevant to your team’s operations and responsibilities.

Protective Intelligence Learning Objectives

Our discussion has three objectives:

  1. Dispel prevailing beliefs about attackers
  2. Understand the pre-attack process leading to targeted violence
  3. Learn the processes involved in behavioral threat assessments

Who Needs To Understand More about Protective Intelligence?

Our target audience comprises the following:

  • Chief Security Officers and key security leaders
  • Members of the General Counsel’s Office
  • Experts in threat assessment and mental health counseling
  • HR professionals and Employee Assistance Program managers
  • Representatives of any division or department charged with advancing corporate risk management

We invite you to join us. If you’re a member of the audience listed above, what you learn, at several levels, could save lives.


[1] Fein, R.A., Vossekuil, B. & Holden, G. “Threat Assessment: An Approach to Prevent Targeted Violence.” Research in Action. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice: Washington, D.C. (September, 1995), at 1-7. NCJ 155000