Deciding how to handle death threats requires judgment, experience and tools that can uncover evidence. Mature organizations have access to a threat assessment team that can quickly triage a situation and if needed continue the process with an investigation, assessment and threat management.
Some death threats are indirect; they aren’t very alarming. This one was very very alarming.
The case started with confusion. Police were called but the responding officer didn’t feel that opening a case was warranted. This is common where police training in threat assessment is lacking. Threat assessment involves understanding and mitigating threats; this prevention strategy doesn’t work by waiting for the crime to be committed. Despite their hesitation to investigate the threat, the police department felt the situation was important enough to divulge it to the local newspaper. That complicated our investigative work substantially.
Access control records and employee interviews pointed to an unhappy colleague. Forensic analysis of the computer that he used identified an uncommon grammatical error that matched an error in the threat written on the executive’s desk. At that point understanding proceeded quite rapidly.