We are very happy and quite proud to announce that Nannyguards has been selected by the Leaders Network team at Meta to showcase our success story. It has been a tough road and many long hours since the very first day Nannyguards was created and we feel extremely blessed to share our work and heartfelt passion with some amazing professionals who have since joined our team. Dr. Mary Beth Wilkas Janke (Psychology), JD Elkin (Cyber Security Awareness), Kelly Sayre (Situational Awareness) and Chris Grow.
Even though I addressed this subject over twelve years ago, the same still rings true. In the world of executive protection/close protection, there are already so many distractions, pitfalls, and misunderstandings that I believe there is a veritable need to, again, address the distinction and perceived necessity surrounding certifications, licenses, and memberships/associations that so many new practitioners fall prey to in their quest to achieve their career goals of becoming a truly professional executive protection or close protection agent. Let’s take a few minutes and see if we can answer a couple of your important questions and get you headed in the right direction…
Besides the damages and the loss of valuables, cash, or assets that have enormous value, some of these victims are going to be scared forever. It is never easy for one to have his/her safe heaven, their home, broken into by others. Knowing that the place you consider the safest is not safe and seemingly anyone can target you, come closer to you, or steal from you, makes the victims feel vulnerable and unsafe and brings substantial levels of anxiety into their daily life. Having your privacy torn from you can leave mental and emotional scars that do not mend.
What’s even scarier is that many of these victims have families, and their children can be targeted as well. And if you think that only celebrities can be victims of having their homes broken into, think again. Many incidents show that other individuals such as C-Suite corporates, businessmen and businesswomen, as well as Royal Family members, have had their homes broken into. Florence Mirsky, Elton B. Stephens Jr, and the former prime minister of Qatar, Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani are just a few examples.
According to Vanity Fair ”David and Victoria Beckham were reportedly “shaken up” after a masked intruder broke into their home while they were asleep. The couple’s West London mansion was burglarized in late February. The pair and their 10-year-old daughter,Harper, were apparently asleep when the intruder broke in upstairs, only becoming aware of the invasion later. In the meantime, the burglar was able to quietly make off with thousands of pounds worth of their belongings. The Beckhams didn’t realize they’d been burglarized until their 17-year-old son, Cruz, came home later that night after an evening out with friends and discovered a ransacked spare bedroom with broken glass from where the window had been smashed in. Cruz alerted his father, who called the police. They then both went looking for the trespasser, but he was long gone by then with their designer goods and electronics.”
Reading all these names (who are just a small group considering the larger picture) you may ask: since they have the money, why can’t they protect their homes more efficiently?
One of the primary reasons is the all too common PROACTIVE vs REACTIVE security stance they take. This unfortunate view has become one of the leading factors in these types of circumstances. Many people, no matter what their financial background or celebrity status might be, will only take action and reach out for help AFTER an incident has taken place. They are convinced, either on their own or by friends and associates, that they don’t need that kind of protection, they’ll be fine, it won’t happen to them…Until it does. Then, some may invest in a close protective detail, but not in a residential security team, and in doing so, will never learn what may be truly necessary. Some interesting residential security facts brought up by the 2022 State of Safety report showed that although Americans believe that crime is on the rise, the use of property protection measures fell 6% between 2019 and 2020, and nearly 40% of American residents don’t use any kind of security measures to protect their home whatsoever.
What is Residential Security?
Residential security is a combination of technological measures, methods, and manpower to ensure the safety and security of a household (lives, valuables, privacy) and the assets and property that lie within its perimeter. Depending on the clients’ risk and threat factors (their security needs), it can be alarm systems, controlled access, guard dogs, physical residential security teams/guards (RST), drone coverage, or any combination of these tools.
A good residential security plan starts with a detailed, in-depth risk, threat, and vulnerability assessment. An expert should visit your residence and do a detailed physical survey to identify any weak points that will make it easier for someone to gain access to you or breach your privacy. The expert will be able to determine the seriousness of potential risks and the likelihood of an incident taking place, either due to what is discovered during the assessment or specific threats you have currently. He/she will consult with you on a plan and give their recommendations (upgrading the locks on windows and doors, upgrading the level of glass security, placing an alarm system and CCTV, hire security guards, etc.) on how to mitigate any risk and/or threat factors and protect your property. They can also identify the response time for first responders and law enforcement and do thorough research on your area’s criminal activities, crime rates/types, and even any known sex offenders’ presence in your surrounding neighborhood. So many families have small children, and knowing the potential risks in the surrounding area helps to mitigate any possible dangers to the children’s safety. During an estate risk, threat, and vulnerability assessment, they look for anything that can be harmful to you or disturb your life. A threat can be anything such as a natural disaster, fire incident, stalking and harassment, privacy violation, smash and grab theft, robbery, vehicle theft, or a serious physical attack such as a kidnapping, active home invasion when you’re home or even murder.
Things to consider when establishing a Residential Security Team
A Residential Security Team is not established just because the client lives or spends a majority of their time at the said estate, a residential security team is placed for the safety of the premises even when the client is not home. Arriving home to find a violent individual in your home awaiting your return is no less disturbing than stopping one from coming in when you’re present in the home. Most clients and security companies focus so much on protective details that they forget the importance of having a proper and balanced RST in place that will make sure the house, your belongings, and your privacy are protected 24/7. Most of the victims mentioned at the beginning of our article could have prevented what happened to them if they had put the needed importance on their RST teams. While a determined criminal might come in when you’re home, most will attempt their task when you’re away from the residence, and a mere security system with cameras only takes great pictures of them getting away, not stopping the loss of assets or the even more frightening possibility of someone waiting until you arrive home.
A Residential Security Team and the Protective Detail teams must cooperate and communicate with each other on a regular basis. They are two departments with the same goal, to keep the family safe. Either when the family is on the move or back at home. We’re highlighting the necessity of cooperation significantly because there seems to be a competition at times between RST and Protective Details teams who don’t share information or report to each other as they should. Remember, as an RST, you have eyes on the property and around it; as a Protective Detail team, you have eyes on the client while in public or away. Many incidents would have been avoided if one team could pass on the information they found to the other. In the end, we all truly want the same thing…A safe and happy client and his family.
The training of your Residential Security Team is crucially important. You must have trained personnel who not only know every inch of your premises and all the needed procedures but also are trained and qualified for the job requirements. Make no mistake, a residential security team member is not just a uniform guard.
RST members are individuals who are responsible for a variety of functions such as:
documenting and reporting
providing real-time information about the surrounding area
identifying suspicious behaviors and reporting them
have a high level of customer service attitude
conduct ongoing threat, risk, and vulnerability assessments
follow up with SOPs
work directly with household personnel, other security teams, and local law enforcement
know how to use alarm and surveillance equipment
can support event security operations
The residential security team is your first line of defense, and when they are truly professional, they can be a deterrent to anyone who may want to target your home.
When you’re vetting your Residential Security Team, there are a few steadfast rules to always keep in mind. Would you allow just anyone to be close to your family and friends? No, of course, you wouldn’t! Then why shouldn’t you be extremely careful during the vetting and hiring process of your residential security team? Known incidents have shown that ‘’strong castles fell from within’’, and many home break-ins have happened due to insider information. When we deal with celebrities or people with specific wealth, insider threat is very real. Many of the break-ins happened because one of the residential security guards either committed the crime or made it easier/assisted the actual burglars. Vetting your security personnel is mandatory, a criminal background check should be done before hiring and be done again regularly at random after the initial hiring. An additional credit check is necessary to assure that your RST members are of sound financial background. There can be no room for any type of bribery or theft of the client’s assets due to an individual’s monetary indiscretion. Driving records are crucial as the RST members may or may not have access to or need to move the client’s vehicles. And as much as it sounds ‘extremist,’ there MUST always be a background into anyone near the children or having regular interaction with the children. The world is no longer a safe place…Unless we make it that way. This is our task…This is our Craft. We have chosen this, and a Residential Security Team is a very necessary asset for the proper 24/7 protection of clients, property, assets, and even their very lives.
If you are interested in learning more about Residential Security or need a Residential Risk, Threat, and Vulnerability Assessment? contact us today at email@example.com
In our latest interview with expert Nick Barreiro, Chief Forensic Analyst of Principle Forensics, we discussed the security risks from any/all social media platform postings and how someone can obtain critical information from your pictures. If you haven’t watched the interview yet, please find it below
According to Vice’s latest article, authorities have been following Instagram profiles of the women related to, or involved with, Russian oligarchs to obtain information about them, their holdings, accounts, and locate assets to seize/freeze by merely identifying and following the weakest link who posts the most. These women who act like ”influencers” or social media celebrities are looking for publicity, but they now represent a significant threat to the security of the individuals they’re around and expose them to unwanted scrutiny. ”Oligarchs themselves rarely use Instagram to accidentally crack open a window into their high living. Rather, it’s the people partying with them: A stepdaughter, an ex-wife, or in the least one infamous case, an escort.” Read the full article here.
The use of social media and the way it affects our lives and businesses have brought a new challenge to the security industry and the protective team’s responsibility. It gives the entire world the ability to look into people’s lives with the mere push of a button. Scandals are created, secrets exposed, and lives ruined. In the case of personal security, social media can be used in the advancement of a protective detail; however, one must know how to utilize it properly. Today, we will talk about Social Media Investigations and Monitoring. For those who are not aware of the term, as we utilize it in protection circles, Social Media Investigation and Monitoring is the process by which you can identify what is being said about your clients, a brand they represent, or the corporations with which they are involved and any threats or dangers that may exist in relation to those aspects.
As we sift through different social media platforms and online channels, we must then determine if what is being said has any significance regarding your clients’ reputation, persona, and safety and if there is the need to mitigate any risks. In other words, it’s like setting up an online, social media “net”. This process then helps you discover everything that is being said, written about, or portrayed on social media and determine its relevance to your clients. You can gather information about the ‘’public opinion’’ surrounding your clients, about people or entities who are angry with them for one reason or the other, people who are obsessed with them, or people who are making online threats. SOCMINT or Social Media Intelligence (not to be confused with OSINT) has seen a huge rise in necessity due to the use of social media and a competent protective detail needs to always be informed and social media investigations and monitoring are a huge part of this process.
Now, let’s see some examples of how social media investigations and monitoring applies in protective services. Let’s say one of the people you are protecting belongs to a large pharmaceutical company and they decided to raise the price of a specific drug, thus affecting the lives and wellbeing of thousands of people. Perhaps another client is involved in a financial institution that quite suddenly makes a significant decision that affects people’s lifetime savings and pensions. You can imagine that there will be a significant number of people who become very angry, and some may want to harm your client. During the recent pandemic, there were a number of “anti-vaxx” groups that were quite vocal and utilized Facebook as one of their many platforms to accomplish their goals. Another example would be the need to discover if there is someone using your client’s name or company to scam others and commit crimes.
We are sure that many of you today are aware of the infamous ‘’Tinder Swindler’’, Shimon Yehuda Hayut, who legally changed his name to Simon Leviev to pretend to be the son of the billionaire Lev Leviev and used his name and company logos to scam people. Although his actions were known since 2017, it was only after the airing of the Netflix documentary in 2022 that the Leviev family found out and filed a lawsuit against Hayut for falsely portraying himself as the son of Lev Leviev, receiving benefits, and committing crimes.
According to Leviev’s family attorney, Guy Ophir, they will now include anyone who has attempted to make a profit from his scam during the next lawsuit. What we can ask is, as security providers, why didn’t someone from the real Leviev family ever discover this scam artist who was extremely public and active on social media as the ‘’son of Lev Leviev’’? Although the real family members were never part of this fraudulent scheme, and it didn’t appear to affect their safety, it did, however, involve their name/brand in a very public and negative way. In other words, it should have definitely been considered as a threat to their reputation. Other people who were harmed by this scam artist were the businesses who did work with them, and their secondary service providers as well.
Another interesting case to mention is Elon Musk where he, the actual client, took it upon himself to “solve” the issue and directly contacted the person of interest who had begun posting his private flight details and created the security risk for him and was literally blackmailing him unless the POI was paid. According to media reports “Elon Musk states social-media accounts that track his travel movements are ‘becoming a security issue.” Tail numbers and yacht names of billionaires are increasingly being shared on online platforms and one can track them by having the appropriate app unless significant efforts are made to secure them from the reach of those diligent few. These are some unique specific details that the security team needs to pay close attention to at all times.
Since Social Media platforms are the way people today communicate with each other, we as security providers must keep in mind that this is not always a positive aspect. Perhaps a person or persons will utilize social media to collectively gather people with their same goal or mission, to get together and plan their next move (Example: protesting outside your client’s house or corporation). In this case, you will want to know what is being said online about the person you protect to determine if there is something of extreme necessity to include in your risk and threat assessment and then take protective measures as well as inform their legal department.
As we have all witnessed too many times, it only takes one well-placed picture or story regarding some alleged activity on the part of your client, and it will go viral quickly, truth or not. Staying one step ahead of this type of “attack” has become a crucial necessity in order to protect your client from embarrassment or exposure. One of the most common issues in recent history is when personnel close to the client i.e., family, staff, vendors, and any other secondary customers post pictures, stories, or opinions and subsequently fail to understand the negative effect these types of communications can and will have on the client’s life, business, and the lives of their loved ones.
Why do you need a Social Media Investigations and Monitoring Strategy when you are a security services provider? To summarize we can say:
1) To identify new threats.
2) To discover what information about your client is posted online either by himself, the ones close to him, or his employees and evaluate how these affect his safety.
3) To evaluate a threat (someone is posting online threats directed at your client).
4) To add to your due diligence.
5) To geolocate a picture or a video, sometimes even audio.
6) To include any findings in your Risk and Threat Assessment (We can never highlight this enough, social media surveys and investigations are now a critical part of your Risk and Threat Assessments).
7) To find people obsessed with or following your clients (stalkers).
8) To identify hate groups or terrorist organizations that may affect your client.
9) To identify people or businesses your client may or may not want to do business with.
10)To mitigate risks from the information found online about the person you protect (How are the pictures of my client used or tampered with and for what purpose?).
11)To identify if someone is impersonating your client or a family member.
12)To find out if your client’s moves/visits/travels are posted online (Exposing them to others who may be in the same hotel, conference room, restaurant).
13)To identify workplace violence or insider threats indicators.
14)To find out what is the ‘’public opinion’’ regarding your client (Always keep an eye on what is being said about your client and have a strategy to respond).
15)To determine if a person or persons are utilizing your client’s name or business name in a malicious or unauthorized manner for their own personal gain. (Claiming associations or partnerships, etc.)
How to perform Social Media Monitoring for security purposes?
First, let’s clarify one important thing. ‘’Googling it’’ is not enough, nor is it the answer. There are a number of search sites that allow for user input thus watering down or contaminating information and it’s accuracy. For those who are not aware, Social Media Investigations and Monitoring is quite a different department of protective services and quite often falls under Intelligence Analysis and Open-Source Intelligence. It requires unique skills and knowledge. One must clearly understand different social media and research platforms and how to use each one of them (and/or in combination) to obtain information. How you will approach each case is different and certainly depends on who your client is, their business, close relations, and/or their public image. This will directly affect the searches and the resources used and for what purpose. It is vital in our current day and age to include SOCMINT (Social Media Intelligence) in your client’s service proposal, no matter how public the person may or may not be. Hiring ten Executive Protection agents and a Residential Security Team is not enough anymore. SOCMINT services are a vital part of your Risk and Threat Assessments (Dynamic Risk Assessments too) and enable your protective detail to function more efficiently.
For those who can not provide a certified Social Media Investigator for their clients, follow up with these steps:
1)Understand who your client is, his/her background, the threats, where do they stand in political, social, financial sectors.
2)Be aware of any of the latest changes in your clients’ lifestyle, public opinions, and professional decisions.
3)Be aware of any of their political and social changes. Watch the news from multiple channels.
4)Familiarize yourself with all close family, friends, staff, and associates and their respective social media footprints.
5)Set up a social media investigation and monitoring strategy.
6)Have a good understanding of the Intelligence Cycle (How the intel is being collected, analyzed, disseminated, reviewed, etc.).
7)Have a good understanding of the search tools on different platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Reddit, etc.)
8)Do research on the available search engines and the strengths and limitations each one may have.
9)Know how to conduct image, video, and audio research and gather intelligence from them.
10)Invest in appropriate platforms for social media investigations and monitoring (Have in mind, NEVER rely on one platform’s result or just platforms’ results. The user/investigator is the main component of a social media investigation).
11)Download and use appropriate search engines extensions and apps.
12)Invest time in creating ‘’sock puppets’’ or fake profiles and maintain their persona. Sometimes you may need a profile to have access to different forums or groups without being discovered.
13)Train yourself in link analysis (How to look for connections between people, events, and organizations).
14)Set keyword alerts (In multiple languages in case your client has ties with more than one country).
15)Gather, analyze, evaluate, and report your findings to the appropriate department or leadership.
As the threat landscape changes every day, we as protection providers must be able to adapt and keep ourselves up to date with additional training. Today’s executive protection agent must also be skilled and knowledgeable in investigations, open-source intelligence, protective intelligence, HUMINT, and have an increased understanding of cyber security. Large corporations have already created their own embedded intelligence departments, while others are hiring threat analysts and OSINT investigations from outside security providers. The rise of protective intelligence, and whatever that includes, is here to stay and we are seeing it more and more through the highly increased number of related job postings every day.
If you are an Executive Protection Agent and want to learn more on how to utilize Social Media Investigations and Monitoring for Risk Mitigation Purposes, reach out to us.
f you are a service provider and want to add Social Media Investigations and Monitoring for Risk Mitigation Purposes on your service list, contact us to learn about our vendor services.
One of the biggest challenges that the majority of the security companies will have to deal with is not so much being able to obtain a contract, but to be able to properly maintain that contract once it’s signed and done. We are all quite aware of how many times the intricate contracts for various clients have changed hands over the years. While some might think it is hard to land a good contract, maintaining it professionally and properly while providing what you are being paid for may be very difficult for some companies. According to numerous studies, the average company loses nearly 10% of their clients due to their poor contract management. Why is that? Well, managing contracts (and the corresponding projects) is an overlooked form of corporate leadership and a large part of a company’s operational function and market viability. Project and contract managers must be able to interact frequently with their agents in the field, subcontractors, vendors, stakeholders, family offices and, more often as not, the client himself/herself.
‘’The International Association for Contract & Commercial Management (IACCM) identifies 7 major areas of contract management weakness:
Disagreement regarding contract scope
Weaknesses in contract change management/retention
Performance failures due to over-commitment
Performance issues related to a disagreement/misunderstanding over what was committed or requested
Inappropriate contract structures
Disputes over pricing
Issues with subcontractors’’
Now let’s discuss some of the most common causes that may cost a security provider one of their contracts:
You are charging significantly more than is proper (Faulty Pricing)
At some point we have to admit that quite a number of companies will overcharge a client merely because of who the client is and not particularly what their security needs or threat level may be. You cannot begin to expect one client/contract to change your own wealth status or single handedly build your company’s gross revenue and/or profit. It is neither ethical nor professional for your corporation to make 2 to 3 times more profit than the agents working the detail on the ground. We all have our levels of operational expenses, but don’t pass that bill on to the client or your protective agents. Make a profit, but make one within logical expectations.
2. You are ‘’suffocating’’ your client
Either: A) You have placed more agents than are needed (Again, this comes back around to profit: The more agents on the ground, the more you can charge), B) Your agents are not exercising proper situational awareness and how to be flexible with protection levels versus the client’s perception of asphyxiation, or C) The company holding the contract has not done a proper Risk/Threat/Vulnerability Assessment and/or are not trained, experienced or knowledgeable enough to ascertain proper staffing and logistics. Some companies will ‘’overreact’’ on the threat level to make their services appear quite necessary to the client, while in reality, achieving the opposite result.
3. Not being able to provide services as promised
A protective detail is comprised of many elements and sometimes you have to be able to provide additional services as you go. You must be the one who can foresee what is or will be needed and provide it before the client even asks for it. We have heard of many companies who fail to render even the basics of what they agreed to provide. We have seen details operating with less manpower than what was requested or changing the personnel so often because they fail to keep the professional agents or cannot staff it properly. Have in mind, clients need stability and familiarity and will become unsettled when they see or must become accustomed to new faces.
4. Failure to accommodate clients needs and solve operational issues (Lack of Customer Insight)
We’ve all heard the phrase, “The client is always right”, correct? Well, from the moment you signed that contract, you alone are the one who must do whatever it takes to construct a smooth protective detail and provide peace of mind to the person who hired you. You alone are the one who must be stressed, work long hours and find a way to solve any issue with the security team or the client’s needs, not the client. It must appear as though all is under control and operational.
5. You are not providing services to a level or standard that is expected and required
We can all agree that our prospective clients will want 3 things: A) To be protected, B) To have the best close protection agents, staff and logistics that their finances can obtain (they fully believe they are paying for the best either way) and C) To have peace of mind. If your corporation is hiring unqualified, unprofessional or unethical agents, or utilizing contractors of the same substandard quality because you refuse to pay for the ‘’good ones’’, the client will soon start looking for another company.
6. Your Project or Contract Manager has no vested interest in the contract (Neglected Contracts)
This occurs so many times when the person who is working for an ‘A’ list company, as a Project or Contract manager, simply doesn’t care to deal with the issues, stay intricately involved or maintain the contract for his company. Most fail to have good communication skills, which is one of the key elements when dealing with clients, vendors, staff, stakeholders or agents in the field. How you communicate during common, day to day interactions with people or personalities will be just as valuable, or more in some cases, as to how you react during a crisis situation and the solutions you are expected to provide. Merely having a project or contract manager on your staff isn’t nearly enough. You must have an individual who can be extremely flexible, can develop a strategy out of thin air and be able to solve complex issues, without raising undue alarm, if they arise.
While these are just a few of the common pitfalls that a contract manager may find themselves encumbered with, each client and contract are unique and every company needs their respective contract managers to be creative, innovative, and highly observational so as to catch any of these issues far before they become problematic and present solutions to overcome them. Our task is not just to sell the client on our services and then walk away, but we are expected to, and should without failure, continue to provide the highest level of service and commitment to our clients that they have come to expect. The sale is the easy part…How we treat and care for the client and their contract once we sign on the dotted line will either build our reputation and lead to more success or it will cause a loss of trust and failure that cannot be easily repaired or regained resulting in the loss of the contract.
We will be launching a series of educational webinars that are absolutely free to attend. The aim of the webinars won’t be to present people and their past stories, but to have specific guests who will combine their experience and training in the industry in order to teach you something new, to help your professional development and to provide consultation for you. They will share their opinions, the “do and don’ts” of the industry and answer your questions.
And the best part? The content of each webinar will be developed by you! While we are working on our next webinars, let us know either by a comment here or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org what topics would you be interested in having discussed, answered and/or receive consultation on? This is a webinar created for you, by you!
It’s not very often when we have the ability to interview and learn from our adversaries. While most efforts are seemingly focused only on physical attacks, they do not give enough emphasis to the paparazzi, media, and all that this facet of protection entails. But we’ve got you covered. This is an interview we have been wanting to do for the last 5 years. What we learned from a retired British paparazzi is that pointing a flashlight toward them won’t work, neither you are safe if you block the tail number from your private jet. We also learned how they find information about your clients, who are willing to pay a lot of money to buy your pictures (no, it is not only the media outlets), to what length they will go to distract you and get that picture and why you will be not able to buy their silence.
*Disclaimer: During this interview, you may encounter offensive language content within the realm of your site.*
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***Copyright @Athena Worldwide, a LeMareschal LLC company. Any illegal reproduction of this content will result in immediate legal action.***
The latest incident with French President Emmanuel Macron being slapped by someone in the crowd has once again fired up the keyboard warriors who take any incident (video or picture) such as this and claim how improperly the Executive Protection team functioned and what would they have done differently and, of course, be more successful. As a Greek proverb says ‘’Whoever is outside the dance (floor), can sing many songs’’ Meaning: It is easy to talk about something when you are not the one involved in it.
As security practitioners, we must be very careful what we say online, keeping in mind, whatever you post online stays online even if you delete it minutes later. We should not criticize security details and/or the people involved because we do not know all the facts, details, limitations and the full story. When you post a comment on a 10-second video, you may not have the full story. You do not know what happened before or after the incident. What you see in a photo may not be the full picture. It doesn’t make you any more ‘’professional’’ when you try to spot the wrong moves in an incident where you weren’t involved and you do not know all the parameters: you are just assuming.
In this case, we heard many opinions:
‘’Why didn’t they keep standard formation?’’- How can you keep standard formation when your principal is anticipating close interaction with a member of the crowd? Greeting lines are extremely tedious and are one of the most difficult situations to read and provide protection.
‘’The reaction time was slow.’’- The reaction time always seems to be slower when you see an incident on a video over and over again rather than being involved with it in real-time in the field.
‘’They were lucky he wasn’t holding a knife.’’ – Actually someone did their job well and made sure he (or anyone else in the crowd) wasn’t holding a weapon. What most fail to understand is that these crowds are previously checked for anything that can be used as a weapon.
‘’Why didn’t they saw that coming?’’ – They don’t teach ESP at Executive Protection schools…
‘’Why didn’t someone teach Macron?’’ – Most protectees won’t sit down and learn from you about protection, they want you to protect them. It’s not their job to know how to do yours…Why do you think you’re employed?
Now let’s address some challenges for protecting public figures and try to make some rational sense of all of this.
Protecting people whose identity depends on the public, such as politicians, in this case, is very much different than protecting a C-Suite executive for example. A politician needs the interaction with public. They shake hands, hug, get pictures with and celebrate with large crowds. Having people like them is what makes people vote for them, and they need to look and act quite approachable to everyone in order to gain votes. If they don’t get the votes, well, then they no longer hold their current political position. They have to attend gatherings and events and most of those functions may be outside of your span of control regarding organizing it. You have to provide services as best as you can with what you have and minimize whatever limitations you can.
In this case ‘’the unknown crowd’’ is the issue. The ‘’crowd’’ provides a good opportunity for the enemy to blend in, act and even escape in some cases. Also, as most public appearances are preplanned and announced, the enemy has the time to be prepared for the attack. And when we say attack, let’s clarify that “attack on your principal” is not only an assassination or physical harm but also an attack on his/her personality, reputation or by causing embarrassment.
While most EP training schools focus only on physical attacks, have in mind causing embarrassing situations may be something your principal is particularly vulnerable and endangered by, thus it is something you must be prepared to prevent. Making sure the crowd has been checked for anything that can be used as a weapon doesn’t mean you are safe from an embarrassing situation. Paying attention to people’s hands and what they are carrying doesn’t mean you can be sure about the intention of a handshake. A handshake can become a pat on the shoulder or a slap on the face. How would you know the intentions of the handshake and act within 2 seconds to prevent it? You must be in very close proximity to do that and sometimes you have limitations on how close you can be with your principal, particularly when they are interacting with the public and potential voters. When any public figure decides he/she want to come within close proximity of a voter, you are required to break the standard formations and you cannot have security between the voter and the principal because they need that ‘’personal space’’.
Act too aggressive and they will perceive this position as very unapproachable, something that goes against your principal’s political campaigns. So you have limitations or adaptations to perform your protective job competently.
Another thing to consider is that some protectees will appear uncooperative with you and your suggestions or directions. They will do the exact opposite of what you have instructed them to do or whatever the plan was because they thought doing something different was ok, safe or was suggested at the last minute by their campaign manager. Some protectees will ask you to protect them no matter what. The fact that they won’t consider changing their lifestyle, and you have to do your best, becomes another facet of the ever-evolving detail.
Have we forgotten the flying shoe incident with President Bush in a press conference in 2008? The red paint thrown at Mary Harney, Ireland’s Health Minister in November 2010? Berlusconi’s nose being broken and two teeth knocked out when a man attending a political rally threw the statuette of Milan’s Duomo gothic cathedral straight in his face in 2009? Eggs being thrown at Bill Clinton in Warsaw, Poland? Nicolas Sarkozy being a victim of a flying pie in 1997? The book thrown at Obama in 2010? The glitter attack on Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlently in 2011? Pope being attacked by a woman who jumped barriers at St Peter’s Basilica and knocked him down in 2009? The famous slap on Dimitra Liani Papandreou, the widow of ex Greek PM at her book signing by a woman who appears to be there to sign her book? Bill Gates’ “Pie-to-the-Face” fiasco? There are so many more similar incidents including paint, body fluids, pies, yoghurt, vegetables, flour and even flashing body parts such as the Femen members who went toplessness in front of the EU-Russia summit, in Brussels, in December 2012.
Can we criticize the EP team members involved in these incidents? Can we say that you would have done better after the incident has taken place? From the moment you have a complete crowd check for weapons, you are in a “secure” space. But what leads you to believe that you have a better understanding regarding the mental status of someone who appears to be a voter or a fan? Can you honestly guess his motives if he/she wants to slap, or spit or in some way embarrass your client?
If you haven’t provided security details for Public Figures, it may seem easy for you to criticize an incident like this, but criticizing what you don’t know and just assuming doesn’t make you right and it very well may show your ignorance. Instead, use this incident as a reminder that people will use anything to harm your client’s reputation and their imagination can be big and quite unpleasant. Keep it as a learning tool for yourself and yet another scenario in your head of what you would or wouldn’t do if…
Perception is everything, protect yourself and build your reputation on solid ground.
*These are part of a panel of personal opinions formulated from my experience in the industry as an EP agent, business owner and recruiter for other corporations. Keep in mind that just because I preach it, doesn’t mean I haven’t made the mistakes. It’s actually the fact I have made some of these and it’s caused me to learn what can work and what doesn’t. You may not agree with me or follow up with the suggestions, but experience is an amazing teacher…”Let he who has ears…”*
1) Know what you know and know your value. (Know what you are willing to sacrifice as well, working more hours, night shifts, holidays, for how much, or how little.)
2) Know what you don’t know and either leave it to someone else or study it (There is nothing worse than someone who is trying to operate in many different fields, and yet, have quite limited knowledge on each field and act as though they’re the authority on it.) Focus on what you are most interested in and master it. Only move on to something else when you have a solid foundation on a topic and you are prepared to expand to something else.
3) “Listen more and talk less” Comment or post on social media only if you have something constructive to say and always stay on point and use professional language.
4) Post or comment only on subjects you know well, subjects you have studied, and subjects you know from real-life experience. There is no need to post daily or non-related posts.
5) It takes specific work and, quite simply, boots on the ground to consider yourself experienced. Having worked EP two or three days a month doesn’t make you qualified enough to disagree or raise your voice with people who have been doing this for 10+ years. Neither are you an expert after one or two years in the industry (You can always see who is who and what they know and don’t know by what they post on social media). Stay humble, lay low and learn your trade well…Your day will come.
6) Maintain a professional image on all business-related social media sites. A suit and tie picture will always be better than a tank top or a duckface selfie.
7) Build a professional LinkedIn Profile, highlight your skills and post all your professional and educational achievements.
8) Stop posting sensitive information, IDs, and license numbers on social media (You are a security professional! If you fail to protect even your own personal information, what does that tell me about how you handle your clients’ information??)
9) Always maintain OPSEC in every post you make. Always think, “How could this be used to harm my client or my team?
10) Protect your data! We have seen more and more security professionals warning their connections that they have been hacked! If your ex-girlfriend can hack your Facebook or LinkedIn profile, then you are probably not very good at keeping your clients or your information safe.
11) Keep high school drama out of social media.
12) Control your emotions, and remain professional at all times…You are your client’s close protection, NOT his/her “Buddyguard”. Friendly at all times, not Friends.
13) Be careful of your connections and the people that you recommend or work with. Have you heard of death by association? Make no mistake, it is a very real factor in our business!
14) Build a professional-looking CV. Keep it simple and to the point. There is no need to hire a CV writer, you know what you have done, trained for, and accomplished.
15) Invest time in building connections. Spend time talking to others or helping them with their projects. I have gained many contracts after the interviews I did with others.
16) Offer pro bono services to companies you respect and want to be involved with.
17) If you are single and have no family commitments, perhaps you work that shift on Christmas or other holidays so someone else can spend the day with his children. You have no idea how being understanding can help you in the long term.
18) Study your clientele and any potential clients. The industry has changed significantly, and the new wave of clients are IT gurus, app developers, cryptocurrency investors, reality stars, etc. Always be knowledgeable on current trends and topics.
19) Be informed on local and international news, threats, and events that affect the industry and the needs or operational aspects of your clients.
20) Don’t be arrogant, there is a fine line between being confident and arrogant. Never cross it…There usually is no way back once the damage is done.