I first heard the term “Left Of Boom” (or some variant of it) while working The Oklahoma City bombing case in 1995. I later heard this term as I worked other investigations to include 9/11, the Boston Marathon Bombing as well as several child abductions. Contrary to the dramatic portrayal of FBI investigations we often see on TV, actual FBI investigations of major incidents such as 9/11 or Oklahoma City typically involve meticulous and detailed timeline investigations.
The term “Left Of Boom” refers to all activity leading up to an attack where “boom” refers to the actual incident, attack, or event. “Right Of Boom,” on the other hand, refers to that portion of the timeline after an attack. I have a great deal of respect for those investigators who work to the “Right Of Boom” as their work provides vital evidence that helps obtain convictions and proves the underlying criminal case. As an example, it was the diligent work of a single federal agent in Oklahoma City who found a small piece of metal in the wreckage that identified the vehicle identification number for the truck used in the attack.
While I respect and admire those who work to the “Right Of Boom,” I have always been a “Left Of Boom” person myself. When looking at “Left Of Boom” we not only look at the behaviors of the individual prior to the attack, but we also work to identify any other individuals who may have assisted or helped in the attack. The fascinating part for me in focusing on “Left Of Boom” was to try to learn what motivated an individual to conduct an attack in the first place. This led to my lifelong commitment to learning and applying threat assessment and management principles in my professional career.
In future posts we plan to share our experiences and perspectives working to the “Left Of Boom” as a way to help nuance your understanding on issues surrounding workplace violence prevention and intervention with the goal of helping you make your workplaces safer for all.