Richard Pittenger is a New Jersey State Police intelligence analyst assigned to the state’s fusion center — the Regional Operations & Intelligence Center (ROIC).
Executive protection is about ensuring the protectee’s security from physical harm and embarrassment, keeping them safe, healthy, and productive. Protective intelligence analysts support the mission by scouring and evaluating vast amounts of information to identify potential risks (risk = threats * vulnerabilities * consequences), putting relevant, actionable information in context and disseminating it so protective operators (e.g., the detail and surveillance detection) can mitigate specific vulnerabilities and protective investigators can examine specific threats. Working together keeps the protectee “left of the boom.”
Executive protection entities in the public and private sectors are increasingly realizing a protective intelligence analyst finding, analyzing, and disseminating potential risks to the protectee is a requirement, not a luxury. Some protective intelligence analysts are part of a full 24/7/365 team embedded in a global security operations center, but more often, the analysts are their own, providing protective intelligence in addition to other tasks.
Leverage All Available Resources
Identifying potential risks to the protectee is so important that, for those doing protective intelligence analysis on their own, it can be a daunting task. Every protectee has different risks – your protectee may be more concerned about the demonstration around the corner from today’s meeting than the Islamic State’s resurgence in the Middle East – and there are an overwhelming number of sources of information that may or may not reveal the potential threats. The following suggestions may help you obtain relevant information and improve your risk assessments and therefore, the detail’s situational awareness.
Maximize Your Use of Online Tools
With limited time and resources, it is important for protective intelligence analysts to automate and outsource as much information collection as possible. There are numerous sites providing relevant, timely, and location specific alerts. You probably already receive news, traffic, and weather alerts, but technology can also provide continuous watch programs. Sign up for free alerts regarding international travel concerns, problematic social media posts, and other potential threats, such as:
- Subscribe to cyber security information, raising your awareness of potential threats from hackers and providing proactive steps to reduce your protectees’ personally identifiable information online.
- The U.S. Department of State and its Overseas Security Advisory Council will email you country-specific notifications regarding international travel. Consider alerts from other countries as well, such as the United Kingdom’s foreign travel advice.
- Numerous sites use your key words to search online forums for potential threats to your protectees, emailing you the results. Some examples are:
– Talkwalker monitors news platforms, blogs, forums, websites, and Twitter.
– Warble searches Twitter for your keywords. (I also recommend following your protectees’ social media accounts to know what they are sharing. Does their stance on certain issues garner violent rhetoric? Do they tweet their upcoming locations? Ensure the protectee’s account settings do not share their location.)
– Google Alerts searches the internet for content based on your keywords.
– Google Trends and Bing Trends graph their users’ searches, emailing you when searches regarding your protectee spike.
– Polling sites (e.g., Gallup, Marist Institute, Pew Research Center, etc.) may identify public sentiment for your protectee.
– The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers email alerts for urgent public health incidents; state health agencies may offer similar information.
– The National Weather Service, National Hurricane Center, U.S. Geological Survey offer email alerts for earthquakes and severe weather.
– Other sites that perform keyword searches of social media sites, to varying degrees of success, include TweetDeck and Hootsuite.
The New Jersey Regional Operations & Intelligence Center (ROIC) does not endorse or recommend any individual services, but provides this information for situational awareness.
Whether you are in law enforcement or the private sector, contact your state’s fusion center to see how they can help. Most states and major cities have a multi-agency fusion center, which is typically where law enforcement, homeland security, emergency management, and private sector security collaborate on threat, crime, and hazard intelligence. Fusion centers collect, analyze, and disseminate information regarding potential threats to its federal, state, local, and private sector partners to better protect their communities. The fusion centers can be a great resource, but you have to ask.
For law enforcement personnel, the US Secret Service’s Protective Intelligence Exchange (PIX) facilitates information sharing within executive protection. PIX is a pointer database of subjects who pose a potential threat to a protectee. When a match occurs, PIX provides contact information for the investigating agency, which can provide additional information. For more information, including law enforcement access, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are numerous professional associations sharing guidance regarding intelligence analysis, potential threats, etc. Associations can simplify your day by providing links to the latest academic research and newest tools. Consider joining a couple to see if they fit your information needs; some examples include:
- Association of Threat Assessment Professionals
- Association of International Risk Intelligence Professionals
- International Security Driver Association
Likewise, consider subscribing to a few podcasts that share relevant tactical and strategic protection information. You might find ideas for your own operation; some examples include:
- Fred Burton’s Protective Intelligence Podcast.
- The International Security Driver Association’s Executive Protection and Secure Transportation Podcast.
I may be a little biased, but consider subscribing to Executive Protection Issues, which focuses on threats to government and corporate protectees.
- New Jersey’s multi-agency fusion center – the Regional Operations & Intelligence Center (ROIC) – produces Protection Issues, a monthly report of threats to protectees, incidents, investigative requests, and other topics, predominantly based on open sources. While not comprehensive, Protection Issues provides the executive protection community (including capitol security, judicial security, diplomatic security, and threat assessors) with a threat information sharing tool.
- The ROIC also produces stand-alone reports regarding larger protection concerns, such as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s efforts to promote the assassination of high profile American business executives. To subscribe, email your name and agency/company information, along with a brief description of your role in the protection community to ROICProtectiveIntel@gw.njsp.org.
Finally, it is important to remember to take care of yourself. Analysts are at risk for burnout if they do not manage the chronic workplace stress from the long shifts, constant alerts, increasing threats, low margins for error, and minimal resources, not to mention the personal stress analysts have, all of which can lead to mistakes and increase the protectee’s vulnerability. Focus on what you can accomplish, and do it well.