Fairfax to D.C.

July 19th, 2017

Due to Tactical Institute’s strong ties to the Washington D.C. area, my boss spends a majority of his time traveling to and from “The Hill” as well as other places. I was lucky enough to be invited to tag along on a few of these trips, which certainly made for a fun and different week. My family came to visit me over the weekend, and we spent the hot summer days biking around the monuments. It was nice to see them, and great timing, too! They left, and I was already where I had to be as the work week began.

I was able to attend a few of the meetings, however due to security reasons, not all of them! We also stopped to check-in on some of the wounded veterans that were trained recently. That was a really humbling experience, and I actually learned a few tips and tricks from them to become a better threat spotter.

I really enjoyed meeting so many different professionals and there are some exciting plans in progress! Hopefully, I will be able to share what some of them entail soon.

 

Below are 2 pictures from my trip into D.C., I had to set up a makeshift desk for one of the days and these cookies were a gift from one of our clients! Yum!

Training Time

July 14th, 2017

What a busy week! I had the opportunity to attend 2 meetings. They put me in charge of taking notes and distributing them to everyone after the meeting ended. As opposed to taking notes in class, I quickly learned that I would not be able to keep up with the conversation unless I developed a sort of short-hand. I have never had to do that before, but in this field, time is of the essence and ideas/updates are bouncing off the walls. That being said, it was a new experience for me that forced me to acquire a new skill. It also gave me the chance to see professionals in the field working as a team towards a common goal. Addtionally, the other inten and myself have spent a majority of our time completing more training modules. When training new threat specialists, past scenarios that Ti have dealt with are used. This has been beneficial in many ways, but mostly serves as a grim reminder of the very real and very serious threats that are present in the world around us. I have a new perspective on life that will stick with me as I get older. One that errs on the side of caution and emphasizes the imporatnce of safety. Below is a video from 2016 of Tactical Institute on the news for preventing their 11th school shooting. This is an example of one of the training modules I completed this week, as well as meeting with Mr. Dowling for the informational interview.

http://www.krgv.com/story/30971267/online-detection-service-alerts-district-about-terroristic-threats

Exciting new contracts to start off July

July 6th, 2017

Hello!

After the long 4th of July weekend, I thought that it was going to be difficult to get back into work mode. The short week started off a little slow, but we received some exciting new contracts yesterday and now everyone is buzzing with energy. One of my favorite things about my internship is that each contract is different, and therefore requires a different approach. This keeps me on my toes and allows me the opportunity to constantly be learing new tradecrafts. While I am not permitted to disclose who our new contracts are with for security purposes, I can say that it is lucky they contacted us when they did! Within 2 hours of receiving my new task, a suspicious video was uploaded that clearly had bad intentions. What made this video even more of a concern? A .22 caliber leaning against the wall in the corner, as well as a string of aggressive, violent, depressed and threatening posts throughout the suspects twitter feed history.

New contracts also mean that I get to tag along to meetings and keeping track of any necessary paperwork. I love these small excursions, as they give me the chance to see new places and discover hidden gems along the way –  like these picture perfect row houses that I captured below!

My Top 3 Social Media Tips

June 26th, 2017

My internship with Tactical Institute has left me feeling shocked, stunned and horrified more often than I first expected. As a college student, I spend at least an hour a day scrolling through news feeds, “liking” pictures, commenting or posting different things to my account and others. Thankfully, I have never had to experience one of my friends or classmates posting a serious threat. However, it happens more frequently than I anticipated. After spending countless hours monitoring the internet as a threat specialist, here are my top 3 social media tips that I have compiled from these experiences:

  1. Think before you post or share anything!! –  I know that parents and educators are preaching this to their children and students on a daily basis, and I will admit that it is an easy rule to overlook. That being said, it is the most important! Try and think about the people who could potentially see what you’ve posted. Not only is this a good rule of thumb to practice if you are applying for jobs or are friends with your current employer on Facebook, but this also applies to public safety authorities. Being mindful of what thoughts you are publishing, even if the intent was purely for humor, can save you from getting into serious trouble!
  2. Know your audience – While some social media sites are more private, like Facebook which allows only people that you confirm as friends to see your timeline, remember that Twitter is an open forum, meaning that potentially millions of people could read the information you share. This tip ties into #1, but I wanted to emphasize that you should also be monitoring what others are posting or tagging you in as well. You can never be too careful!
  3. Fake accounts are not ignored – “Finstas” or other phony accounts may give the user a sense of security, but in reality, it is still possible to track them. The process to uncover their true identity and location may be a bit more drawn out; however, the owner of the account is still held accountable for the posts.

I can not stress enough the importance of thinking before you post the first thought that pops into your head. While you can delete something (a post, picture, comment, etc.), you can never permanently erase something that has been published on the internet. My internship has given me a totally new perspective on my social media accounts, and I hope that these tips will help you too! Remember, the internet, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are a great, easy and convenient way to stay connected with friends, but never underestimate the value of facing your problems instead of Facebooking them.

 

Until next time!

-Andrea

21st Century Preventative Crime Detection

June 19th, 2017

If you watch a mere 5 minutes of any news station coverage, it is more likely than not to hear about various crimes that have occurred since the last news report. Exactly what happened, whether it be a shooting, murder, theft or drug related violence, might change from day to day, but one thing that does not change is the harsh reality that these events are constantly happening in the world around us. From the suicide bombing at Ariana Grande’s concert in May to local neighborhood shootings that are only a few blocks from the backyard where your children spend their warm, summer days in the sun, it is becoming more clear that no one is truly safe. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that there is a way to not only stop these tragic events from occurring, but potentially prevent them altogether?

As a Certified Threat Specialist and intern at Tactical Institute, I am a member of a team that is committed to doing exactly that!

After completing some research on Tactical Institute and what they do on a daily basis, my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to get a closer look at how preventing a crime was even possible! It wasn’t until I started training however, that the true impact of this work began to sink in.

To conclude, my first week of training was an eye-opening experience to say the least. I was able to complete training modules that were once real-life scenarios and gain some incredibly useful skills from TI veterans that will help me as I begin to monitor the web on my own. Interested in learning more about my experiences? Stick around for my next blog post!

 

-Andrea