Photo: U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service

Protective intelligence is a critical aspect of security operations that focuses on preventing targeted violence. It involves a systematic process of gathering and assessing information to identify potential threats, evaluate their seriousness, and develop strategies to manage and mitigate them. This article will provide a brief overview of the three main functions of protective intelligence: identification, assessment, and management/mitigation.


The first step in the protective intelligence process is identification. This involves recognizing individuals or groups that may pose a threat to the safety of a person, organization, or facility. Identification can be achieved through various means, including monitoring social media, analyzing behavioral patterns, and reviewing public records or reports. The goal is to detect any signs of intent to cause harm early enough to prevent an incident from occurring.

Identification also involves understanding the context in which a threat may arise. This includes considering factors such as political climate, societal trends, and personal grievances. By comprehending these elements, protective intelligence professionals can better anticipate potential threats and take proactive measures to address them.


Once potential threats have been identified, the next step is assessment. This involves evaluating the credibility and seriousness of the threat. Assessment requires a thorough analysis of the individual or group’s capabilities, intentions, and motivations. This can involve studying their past behavior, resources, connections, and psychological profile.

Assessment also includes determining the likelihood of the threat being carried out. This involves considering factors such as the individual or group’s access to the target, their level of preparation, and any triggering events that may motivate them to act. The aim is to distinguish between idle threats and those that require immediate attention.


The final function of protective intelligence is management or mitigation. This involves developing and implementing strategies to prevent or minimize the impact of the identified threats. Management strategies can range from increasing physical security measures to engaging in dialogue with the individual or group posing the threat.

Mitigation strategies, on the other hand, aim to reduce the risk posed by the threat. This can involve disrupting the individual or group’s plans, reducing their access to the target, or addressing the underlying issues driving their harmful intentions.

In some cases, management and mitigation may involve working with law enforcement or other relevant authorities. This can help ensure a coordinated and effective response to the threat.

Crucial Role

Protective intelligence plays a crucial role in preventing targeted violence. Through the functions of identification, assessment, and management/mitigation, it enables security professionals to detect potential threats early, evaluate their seriousness, and take appropriate action to keep people and property safe. As the security landscape continues to evolve, so too will the methods and techniques used in protective intelligence, making it an ever-important field in our increasingly interconnected world.

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

By Eugene Nielsen

Eugene Nielsen provides intelligence and security consulting services. He has a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of California. His byline has appeared in numerous national and international journals and magazines.

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