Client’s Challenge: A Threat to Kill

Late on a summer Friday afternoon, a healthcare company’s Vice President of Executive Protection was notified that someone on Twitter had just tweeted that he planned to “kill executives” at the company “one by one, as they walked out the door” of their U.S. headquarters building.

Concerned about her ability to reach people, given the late hour and impending weekend, the Director reached out immediately to multiple resources: internal security personnel, the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service and then, as an afterthought, to two private security providers, including Hillard Heintze.

Our Solution: Preventing Acts That Law Enforcement Authorities Have a Hard Time Addressing

One service provider sent an off-duty police officer who “looked around and asked questions” but was unfamiliar with how to respond to threats conveyed on social media outlets and said there was little he could do unless a crime had occurred. The internal security personnel didn’t respond until the following Monday. “There was simply no sense of urgency with these guys,” the Director later remarked. “One said ‘we’ll call you back’ – but they didn’t until the next week.”

At 8:50 that night, just a few hours after the client’s original call, CEO Arnette Heintze sent the Vice President a short report that: (1) identified both the individual who had tweeted the threat and the healthcare company’s employee with whom he was tweeting – by name, age, date of birth, address, education and employment; (2) screenshots of the conversation; (3) preliminary findings on the relationship between the two individuals; (4) information on their respective social network profiles, professional and non-professional user names and the meanings behind them; and (5) multiple links to their social media pages and blogs.

Impact on the Client: An Array of Protective Strategies and Countermeasures

Over the weekend, as well as in the days and weeks that followed, Hillard Heintze helped the client evaluate, plan and execute a coordinated series of protective strategies and countermeasures to tighten the company’s security practices, improve risk management and build assurance at the board and executive level that the right prevention-oriented steps were systematically being put into place.

Unplugged: The Project Manager's Post-Engagement Perspective

“This time we were able to intervene quickly and quietly. For the vast majority of companies, however, the challenge in preventing harm – before a crime has occurred and law enforcement takes action – is that very few security experts are savvy about social media investigations.

And when they are, they’re almost never trained in formal behavioral threat assessment – and the nuances in the strategies and countermeasures necessary to neutralize a threat before violence occurs.”

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