FBI Classification of Threat Risk Levels

Low Level of Threat: A threat that poses a minimal risk to the victim and public safety.

  • Threat is vague and indirect.
  • Information contained within the threat is inconsistent, implausible or lacks detail.
  • Threat lacks realism.
  • Content of the threat sugests person is unlikely to carry it out.
  • Threat is made by young child (under 9 or 10) and there is laughter in the background.
  • The caller is definitely known and has called numerous times.

Medium Level of Threat: A threat that could be carried out, although it may not appear entirely realistic.

  • Threat is more direct and more concrete than a low-level threat.
  • Wording in the threat suggests that the threatener has given some thought to how the act will be carried out.
  • There may be a general indication of a possible place and time (though the signs still fall well short of a detailed plan).
  • There is no strong indication that the threatener has taken preparatory steps, although there may be some veiled referece or ambiguous or inconclusive evidence pointing to that possibility-an allusion to a book or movie that shows the plannin of a violent act, or a vague, general statement about the availability of weapons.
  • There may be a specific statememt seeking to convey that the threat is not empty: "I'm serious!" or "I really mean this!"

High level of Threat: A threat that appears to pose an imminent and serious danger to the safety of others.

  • Threat is direct, specific and plausible. For example, "This is John Smith, I'm fed up with Mr. Jones yelling at me. There's a bomb under his desk."
  • Threat suggests concrete steps have been taken toward carrying it out, for example, statements indicating that the threatner has acquired or practiced with a weapon or has had the intended victim under surveillance.

Source; Adapted from O'Tolle (n.d)