“To secure yourself against defeat, lies in your own hands…”
– Sun Tzu
Executive Protection, or more prominently expressed as Private Security, has an infinite amount of variables and is acutely conditioned to change. Remaining able to instantantly mitigate daily surprises comes with the territory, and is a critical facet of the service you are providing. Careful calculation of each scenario in real time, executing precision focus, and an amoebic-like flexibility, are all specific requirements essential to the proficiency of a protector. Word of mouth drives this industry so it is paramount that you are exuding the utmost professionalism, maintaining your composure during a heightened situation, and keeping your ego in check; are three keys to success will serve your career very well in the future.
The achievement of the coveted incident free detail requires the majority of your attention and time to be focused on everything you do before the actual operation of escorting your client to their event, or “protective detail”. The extra time you sacrifice and the added effort you devote during your advance work, is crucial to a seamless event, and moat importantly, a repeating client. This “advance” work is the catalyst to ensuring the safety of your client during their daily obligations through meticulous preparation, however, it is unfortunately overlooked at times and not given the needed detail and effort because of it’s less glamorous, “homework-ey” nature.
Detailed analysis of the behavioral detection aspect of “protective” advance work by examination into a potential threat, substantiates the necessity for a preventative “brains” over responsive “brawn” type of management during the advance. Conducting the proper advance requires an exhausting amount of hours dedicated to extensive research leading to a concise but thorough, detailed plan of your client’s activities. Every little detail that can be thought of is addressed, from your client’s potential venues, their predetermined activities, the associates they will encounter, or most likely encounter, any potential threats that may lie in waiting during their public excursions; even down to where the nearest Starbucks is located or the direct phone line to the closest Trauma Unit at the hospital. Everything is planned out ahead of time, and with a service driven mindset, is all contingent upon the direction of the client’s needs, without ever compromising their safety.
Just to touch briefly on some of the focus points during the advance that are the “usual suspects” when developing a strategy for an event. The detail book is essential to act as a quick reference during crunch time, but what really goes in it?
The majority of information lies within the venue itself and the contacts you have inside that can help you during the event.
Basic logistics, number of vehicles being utilized, decoy vehicle or not, how many agents are being used, diagrams of floor plan layouts, locations of fire exits and where there may be “secondary” entrances and exits for your client to access away from the public, are the initial pieces that are considered and annotated.
We need to know step counts to stairwells and exits during emergencies that limit lighting if the grid shuts down unexpectedly as well.
The overall geographical landmarks and physical construction of the area in which it’s located are all important to prepare for, and know.
Identifying the appropriate Police stations, hospitals, and fire departments in the area, each with their individual response times annotated.
We also establish a few options when route planning, the traffic tendencies of the areas we will visit or operate in (foot and vehicle), the overall demographics of the vicinity, social events that are frequently conducted in the neighborhoods, the cleanliness of those neighborhoods, and any possible construction that is or will, be in direct correlation with affecting our mission.
Even down to how long the traffic lights take to change; and trash pick up days are all considered integral parts of the “detail book.”
We also build relationships with other venues and their appropriate personnel in order to make our operations run more smoothly during the detail.
It is certainly a tedious process, but one that prepares the client for either a calm, relaxed, worry free day running errands, or a crazy, flashbulb laced public event; whichever they prefer; but one that they know what to expect, as long as its enjoyed free of incident.
When operating with the mindset of humble and gracious collaboration, as opposed to an “over-privileged, unnecessarily arrogant” mentality, it is much easier to develop and leverage a potential resource to ensure the most practical, innovative, and protective approach is provided to the client. By evaluating your available resources, the probability of future outcomes in relevant venues, you develop unconventional thought processes to create actionable approaches to a potential threat. In doing so, the protector is better equipped to decisively and swiftly alleviate the impact of a perceived threat, or risk, and most of the time, avoid it altogether. Developing relationships at the intended venues, even if only for a few hours, will always serve you better in the future and at the very least, an opportunity may develop in the future for you to return the favor.
Preparation by perpetually playing mind games with ourselves to develop different avenues to become better than we were the day before, using the thought template of, “if this happened right now, where would we go, and what would we do” type of thought process, the more abstract and creative the better. To take that specific “active protection detail” tool and utilize it during the advance throughout your preparation will only serve you better in the future.
Applying potential scenarios tailored to pertinent variables such as the client’s habits, the intended venue – and adjacent venues, the affiliated staff, neighboring demographic, physical and geographical layout of structures in the immediate and adjacent areas, as well as cleanliness of those areas and neighborhoods; and so on. To be THAT diligent and thorough during the prep work and execution, will absolutely show through. Client’s will recognize these little details and the fact that we can still maintain the privilege to call them our client the next day is the only recognition we need; attention to detail – humble and hungry.
Every challenge we encounter is an opportunity to excel, and exceed the standard, and for those of us who truly love what we do, every “day at the office” is just another opportunity to challenge ourselves and evolve in our profession.
The most proficient protectors possess an unrelenting desire to keep people safe, and that desire is delivered with the utmost professionalism, to earn the right to protect a client. To have such an opportunity, such a privilege, does not go unnoticed. Meticulous attention to detail, doing the right thing, and maintaining a level of integrity unparalleled by any other industry, is what sets executive protection operators apart from the more populated event security, bouncer, guard, professions. To excel in such a “service and hospitality” focused industry requires that little extra; what I refer to as, “a wink and a smile.” Executive Protection is a proactive profession that has quickly evolved into a full service, situationally aware, thinking man’s operation; just with a little charisma on the side.
Sure you need to be physically capable of providing certain “persuasive guidance” to potential threats towards your client, but the days of the knuckle dragging mouth breathing gorillas in a suit, are over.
To our reader …
We absolutely welcome your insights and criticisms if you get some time, and if there is a different direction that needs addressing, a potential aspect where you feel there may be a void in the integrity of the protection detail, we would love to kick it around and expand on it…
If there is anything that you feel that we should further develop, or an area where you feel that we lack, we’d be more than ambitious in our approach to rectify those deficiencies. Inversely, if you ever need an extra hand with new developments, by all means, feel free to consider us an asset, and get a hold of us at any time of day.
Thank you all for your time…