Soft Skills: Protective Intelligence To Keep You Safe

Your personal protective intelligence may different in scope than that of a formal agency or team of security professionals but it’s no less important.

Former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employees such as myself could hypothetically have been given assignments that help produce defense intelligence. The CIA is one of several intelligence agencies, including the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), in liaison with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which serves as the head of the U.S. Intelligence Community. Who is responsible for overseeing and directing the implementation of the National Intelligence Program and acting as the principal advisor to the President, the National Security Council, and the Homeland Security Council for intelligence matters related to national security.

Other government agencies have their own intelligence-based programs applicable at the state level. Throughout the federal and state level intelligence community, one hears terms such as military intelligence, preventive defense, defense intelligence, protective intelligence, preventive intelligence, and the like tossed around. Although somewhat related, each of these terms describes a specific type of intelligence.

person in hoody looming under a light

What’s Protective Intelligence?

What exactly is protective intelligence, and more importantly, how can you use it to prevent an undesired event such as an active threat, home invasion, or mugging?

Protective intelligence is the art and science of understanding and further managing potential threats by collecting and assessing relevant information about such threats possessing the motivation, capability, and opportunity to mount attacks against a specific target. 

Looking at it from a predator’s viewpoint – you, your business/ employees, your campus/ students, your family, your assets, and anyone or anything of value or importance to you can be considered a target. Use of protective intelligence – and a personal threat matrix – can significantly improve your ability to remain safe. 

Experts use the collection and assessment of relevant information to determine the vulnerability of a target and guide interventions to avoid, mitigate, or defend against an actual or perceived threat. 

You can use this same methodology to make appropriate decisions based on accurate assessment and then implement those decisions to monitor, intervene, or even prevent a potential threat from progressing into an actual threat. 

 In addition to eyes on, most secured facilities such as schools, airports, government buildings, hospitals, corporate campuses, and the like employ multiple forms of data collection to include access control (doors, gates, access badges, etc.), motion sensors, programmable security cameras, and the like. Depending on a facility’s security level, this information is collected, assessed, and processed to create a salient and usable protective intelligence product employed by the organization.

people standing around in an ally by a car

Protective Intelligence in the Home:

Such information collection and assessment can be utilized to reduce risks and vulnerabilities, and it’s something you can apply to your home. For example, physically step outside your home, look back at it and observe and assess it (observe with the intent of follow-on action) from the eyes of a predator. 

How would a home invader gain access to your home from the outside? Do you have any gates, doors, or windows open on the first or second floor? Are there any ladders or step stools lying around? Are there any covered areas – for example, a door or window covered by a bush, tree, or other vegetation or artificial structure essentially concealing a predator where they to break into that entry point? Do you have any tools such as hammers, crowbars, screwdrivers, sledgehammers, picks, and shovels strewn around the yard or garage? Each one of these tools can be utilized to pry open and further gain entry to your home.

Looking at it from the predator’s optic allows you to assess your observations from the perspective of a home invader possessing the motivation, capability, and opportunity to mount attacks against a specific target. Applying this relevant information, there’s nothing you can do about a predator’s capability, but you can undoubtedly deny them motivation and opportunity by removing any physical tools or implements that may help them achieve their nefarious objective.

Person in hoody looming in front of a wall

Intelligence and Your Surroundings:

The same applies to where you may be traveling for work, making a run to the store, on vacation, or to a destination you’ve never been to. Look at other people and surrounding events from the eyes of a predator. Does anyone have their face buried in a phone? Are they preoccupied with a conversation? Are they driving while texting? As you observe these various scenarios and continue to collect and assess information from the predator’s optic, which one would you select for your target listing?

a crowded street in the early evening

After going through this exercise, what would you think about yourself and/ or those with you looking at it from the same predator’s perspective? Would you make the target selection list? Would those with you make a list? If so, then why? If not, then why not? The answers to these questions are the collection of relevant information and your assessment of that information to determine the vulnerability of a target.

What are additional methods of relevant information collection? Shift your focus from a local to a global perspective. Pay close attention to reliable newsfeeds. What is the status of food supplies? Is there any anticipated water or fuel shortages? What’s happening in terms of world affairs? What are the international headlines? What are current crime trends in your neighborhood? Carjackings? Home invasions? Theft? Muggings? Active shootings? Protests? Looting? Drive-by shootings? Gang activity?

All of this information matters if you care to collect and assess it toward the action of taking protective and proactive measures.

person walking along empty street at night

Information is power. Greater than 90% of all personal security issues can be resolved proactively by observing, assessing, and making decisions based on that assessment to establish and maintain control of your immediate environment to keep yourself and your family safe from predators, crazies, terrorists, and criminals.

Steve Tarani is a former fulltime CIA protective programs employee, small arms and defensive tactics subject matter expert who served on POTUS 45 pre-election executive protection detail. He is the lead instructor for NRA’s non-ballistic weapons training program offered nationally. Tarani is also a DoD and FLETC-certified federal firearms instructor who has been on staff at Gunsite Academy (AZ) as a Rangemaster for over twenty years. Formerly sworn, he is also a former federal contractor and service provider for the US Defense Intelligence Community, US Naval Special Operations Command and other government agencies. Tarani additionally serves on the National Sheriffs’ Association Committee for School Safety and Security.

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