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Protective Intelligence and Threat Assessment Investigations: A Guide for State and Local Law Enforcement Officials

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2000
71 pages
Publication Series

Based on a U.S. Secret Service study of protective intelligence and threat assessment, this report provides guidelines for State and local law enforcement officials in performing physical-protection duties and protective intelligence.


The guidelines stem from the U.S. Secret Service's study of the thinking and behavior of the 83 persons known to have attacked or come close to attacking prominent public officials and figures in the United States in the past 50 years (the "Exceptional Case Study Project"). The introductory chapter in this current report includes a profile of the problem, which is planned, targeted attacks on prominent public officials and celebrities, as well as other citizens. The introductory chapter also describes the Exceptional Case Study Project and threat assessment protocols. Chapter 2 addresses "Assassins and Assassination Behavior." Three myths about assassins are exposed, followed by key observations on assassins. These observations are as follows: attacks are the product of organized thinking and behavior; attacks are the means to a goal; motive and target selection are directly connected; and a "dangerous" potential assassin is a person who believes that attacking a public official is a desirable, acceptable, or potentially effective way to achieve a goal. Chapter 3, "Elements of a Threat Assessment Program," discusses effective design; key functions of a protective intelligence program (identification, assessment, and case management); functions and approaches of the case investigator (investigative skill, corroboration, and common sense); and building a database and sharing information. In providing guidelines for conducting a threat assessment investigation, chapter 4 explains how to open and investigate a case. The remaining two chapters provide guidelines for evaluating a threat assessment case and managing a protective intelligence case.

Date Published: January 1, 2000