One key part of threat risk assessment is understanding the type of threat made. Until you do, it can be difficult to formulate the correct response. Typically, threats are either direct or veiled.
In either case always take threats seriously. Threatening behavior can change suddenly and with no obvious cause.
A veiled threat doesn’t include a direct threat or action. Instead, it insinuates that the threatening individual could cause harm to the person they’re threatening. A veiled threat may be made against the person’s loved ones or possessions. For example, a veiled threat could be something like “I know where you live” or “I know what school your kids go to.” There’s no specific direct threat being made, but the threatened individual understands that something bad could happen if they fail to do what the person wants and is designed to intimidate the person to deliver what the threatener is asking. These threats are equally serious and should never be ignored.
Stalking behavior is another form of threat that needs to be taken seriously and addressed as soon as possible. Some people make the mistake of assuming a stalker is not interested in harming the person they are stalking, but this may not be the case. As the stalker begins to degenerate mentally, the way they stalk can change over time. While they may not have seemed harmful before, they may later fall into a more violent mindset. They may determine that if they cannot have the person they are stalking, no one should.
If an employee is being stalked, the first step is to encourage them to cease all communication with the stalker. The company should take any and all steps necessary to ensure that the stalker has no direct access to the employee, and no information should be shared with the stalker. The employee may need to stay with a friend or at a hotel until the situation can be dealt with. Never assume a stalker will react rationally or normally, even if they have in the past. You cannot use a stalker’s past actions to predict their future ones because their ability to perceive reality may diminish over time.
Not all threats are made against individuals. Some threats, such as bomb threats, may be made against the company as a whole. These threats must always be taken seriously. Pipe bombs are a common threat, but they’re not the only type of bomb someone could use. A disgruntled employee who was fired may place a bomb in their computer or company phone before returning it. If someone has made bomb threats, we strongly urge the company to refuse any equipment they may return.
Extremist groups may also make bomb threats towards a company. This is actually more common than you may assume based on the media. That’s because many companies keep these threats out of the news. However, regardless of who made the threat or how likely you think the group will follow through with their threat, always take it seriously. If you fail to react and a bomb is placed in your office, mailbox, or other space, it can result in injury or death to your employees, customers, and others.
Direct threats are very serious. It is important wherever possible to obtain the exact language the threatener is using. For example: “I am going to kill you in front of your coworkers next Friday afternoon”. “I dream of injuring my coworkers and have purchased a gun.” There are many alternatives that are considered direct threats; it is always best to have security professionals evaluate whether the langauge is a a direct threat. In these cases do not hesitate to contact security specialists, you can also file a police report, however, unless there is a crime in progress many times law enforcement cannot respond.
If you ever have an employee who has made threats, don’t hesitate to reach out to Infortal to discuss armed protection or a threat risk assessment. Remember, you have a responsibility to protect your customers and employees. It is important to take action quickly. If you do not, it not only may affect your employee morale, but it can also lead to legal action being taken against you for negligence should the situation become violent, and also to reputation damage and lawsuits if a tragedy occurs at any level in your organization.
Any company, no matter the size, that has an employee who has made any type of threat needs to take that threat seriously.
Remember that unarmed guards are often not able to intervene in workplace threat situations due to their lack of training and the limitation to “Observe and Report” and not to intervene. If there is a threat to anyone’s safety on company property, you need to have fully trained, armed specialists there to address it.