When a bodyguard looks like a lost sheep.

There are people out there who think anybody can be a bodyguard – especially if you are big and/or look like you know what you are doing. Some of these people are called Clients, whilst others are called “colleagues”.

I can forgive the clients. They know no better. Our “colleagues” however, can not be forgiven as they should definitely know better. Would you like an example?

I’ll actually provide two(real)examples. There is a security company who provides security to embassies. They began by providing just uniformed security personnel, but discovered quite soon that providing Executive Protection could be another revenue stream for them.

One day a Middle Eastern client requested E.P. agents to accompany female Principals around Washington D.C. The company did not have any personnel properly trained in Executive Protection (may still be the case), but seeing the potential for extra billing, they dispatched two uniform females.

The females had no clue what they should do and to their credit, advised a supervisor of this fact. They were told; “put on civilian clothes and just walk behind the Princesses”. This was told to me by a staff member.

More recently, we had a large team of Agents involved in a celebrity red carpet event. I had been in contact with the promoter for days before the event and was appraised on possible threats – both known and anticipated.

Due to the existence of certain incidents which occurred just days before the event, we discussed the need to increase the number of agents and provided literature and intel to all of the agents involved. Based on the information we had, we increased the level of security in certain areas where we anticipated problems.

The Director of Security for the venue walked our team around the facility and pointed out emergency exits, doors accessed only by his staff and any area that might be considered to have a weakness. He even “loaned” us four personnel from his department to assist us in our efforts.

Shortly after the event began, one of my Agents came to me and informed me that two of my employees were downstairs at the entrance. I immediately racked my brain trying to think how two agents would have arrrived at the venue.

The only reasonable explanation I could arrive at was that a couple of the guys who had been contacted, but who were not able to work had changed their schedules and were now reporting for duty. I went downstairs to thank them, but send them home.

One of the agents I had assigned to the front entrance of the venue pointed out two guys in suits as “my employees”. The problem was, I had never seen them before. I went over to the men and introduced myself. They appeared lost. They told me that they had been told to show up in suits and wait for a Limo. Apparently, the Limo would contain their Principal, whom they did not know.

As I walked away from them, I was questioned by one of the promoters who seemed anxious. I had to tell her that they were in no way connected with us, but that they claimed to be there to escort one of the celebrities. This left the promoter even more concerned, as this was “by invitation only”.

At that time the person in charge of the events for the venue came over. He too wanted to know who the men were and suggested that their presence may be a problem. My Agents kept a close eye on them and it eventually worked itself out when the Principal arrived and the “bodyguards” were told that this was the person they were hired to protect.

The “bodyguards” in this incident were so hopelessly lost and out of their element that it was not just glaringly obvious that they did not know what they were doing, but they actually had to be considered as a possible threat due to their inability to convince all concerned of their legitimacy.

I think we all know the moral of the story. Two words; Due Diligence. The least you can do before taking an assignment is to know who you are working for. No professional E.P. Agent should be so desperate for a night’s work that he/she would respond to a request to “show up in a suit” and wait at event for a limo.

If all you know about your “employer” is that he is somebody called “Bob”, shame on you. Don’t compalin when you don’t get paid, or you are involved in a Police investigation because you are working for an unlicensed company. What if Bob is a convicted Felon?

We won’t even go into the ethical dilemma of how it is possible to properly protect a Principal if you have no idea where the emergency evacuation route is, what threats are known to exist and the identity of other protectors who may be able to come to your assistance if needed.

Executive Protection is about Protection. A clown can take off his make-up and put on a suit. At the end of the day though, he’ll still be a clown – albeit a well dressed one.

Why waiting for work is not a good idea for Bodyguards.

I was talking to a graduate of the Sexton Executive Security E.P. training program today. He lives on the West Coast and went through our California class in 2008. He was fortunate to have attended the class where Tom Taylor guest lectured about high profile clients and assignments.

When he went through the training, our graduate was running his own company, but was thinking of changing careers. As we do in all classes, we went into the importance of networking and discussed various business and social media sites it would be advatageous to join.

We also introduced the attendees to buisness owners who were our associates and who would be eager to call them when assignments came in as they knew the level of training these Agents would receive.

Fast forward two years and the graduate has left his other line of business and is now in urgent need of employment to pay bills which don’t stop because one’s lease agreement has ended. This graduate was one of the stars of the training week by the way, and all of the instructors were confident that he had what it took to succeed in this business.

I reminded him today why he should have followed our advice and made the contacts – even if he only did part-time work here and there, he would have started to build the foundation of his network. He realizes now his mistake. Of course I couldn’t leave him to starve, so I gave him contacts and assured I would drop them a line and tell them to put some work his way. That’s what you have to do for your folks.

The morale of the story? Don’t wait until you are in desperate need of work to look for work. Have you ever heard that you don’t go out shopping when you are hungry? Same idea. Sow your seeds today, but give them time to germinate and mature.

Jack and the Beanstalk was a make believe story.

Be careful how you satisfy that sweet tooth

This article in today’s Huffington Post by Dr. Susan Dopart gives food for thought.

The first thing that struck me about the article was that I had heard it said before. As I kept reading though, it made sense in a way that casual statements about fake sweeteners had not done in the past.

There is no escaping from the fact that here in the U.S., we live in an overweight society. It had not occurred to me before, but it is not uncommon to see overweight people in restaurants drinking “diet” drinks. If artificial sweeteners were that good, why are the people who drink them getting fat?

As E.P. Agents, we find ourselves working long shifts, uncommon hours. Sometimes it is difficult to get “proper” food and we may have to depend on what we can grab in a fast food drive-through or drink at a 7-11.

Personally speaking, I have found myself relying more on artifical sweeteners these last few years – thinking that I was doing myself a favor. This article has made me rethink those decisions.

This is a "what-not-to-do" lesson for all aspiring bodyguards

Hollywood celebrities are really one of a kind and we probably should not even attempt to understand them. Those of us involved with Executive Protection and training E.P. agents really cringe when we read stories like this one about Brittany Spears’ new bodyguard, Ryan.

For those of you not involved in the profession, or looking to get involved and who may be reading this, the first sign that her bodyguard is not properly trained is the way he is walking with her. He should not have his arm around her. He looks like he is dating her, not protecting her.

Then we read that when he discovers her vehicle is getting a ticket, he abandons his Principal and runs out to talk the meter maid out of writing the ticket. Meanwhile the clever paparazzi seize the moment when Spears is not only underwearless, but bodyguardless to snap some shots.

If Ryan had even a half of a clue about what his responsibilities were, he would have parked the vehicle legally upon arrival or just allowed the $25 ticket to be written.

As far as ensuring that his Principal wore underwear, well we won’t ding him for that one. Ms. Spears is known for her propensity to “go commando”.

Would you like to get help with a computer problem simply by pressing a button?

This tip is for everyone out there who has a love/hate relationship with their computer. When my computer is working fine, I love what it can do. When it gives me problems or picks up a virus, I hate that I have to spend so much money to fix it and maybe do without it for several days.

Then last month, I discovered Automatic Geek. Automatic Geek allows you to install a HELP button on the tool bar of your laptop, home or desktop computer that gives you 24 hours a day access to an IT troubleshooter (Geek). It didn’t even cost me anything to try it as they give you a free PC tune-up when you visit the site.

When ever you have a computer problem (lost document, suspected virus, power point presentation assistance, free software download, etc.), you just hit the help button and within 10 – 15 seconds a live individual will come to your assitance, 24 hours a day.

Not only is this way more convenient than hauling the computer into an electronic store and having to wait in line to be served, but it is a lot cheaper. On average, computer stores will charge around $200 to remove a virus. Automatic Geek charges $20 a month and you never have to leave your home/office.

It is ideal for small businesses since you can have up to three computers covered under their $30 a month plan. Five computers can be included for $50 per month. Another great savings for small businesses is that Automatic Geek will search the internet for open source soft ware and once they have found what you need, they will download it to your computer for no additional charge – it is all included in the monthly payment.

Busy investigators or E.P. agents who may have to complete a report or other paper work at the end of their shift, can’t afford to be stuck with a problem when they finish work at midnight or 6am.

Like the old saying goes; “the work isn’t over until the paperwork is done”.

Violent felons can now wear body armor in California

Robert Faturechi of the L.A. Times reports that a California Appeals Court has overturned the 1998 ban which made it illegal for felons to wear body armor.

This overturning by the 2nd District Court of Appeals in Los Angeles must surely rank as the most stupid legal decision of 2009…maybe of the whole decade. Decisions like this give credence to the Dickensian phrase; “the law is an ass”.

For those who don’t remember, the 1998 ban arose as a result of the 1997 shoot out in North Hollywood between Police and two heavily armd bank robbers who wore body armor. Police and civilians were killed in that violent incident caught on camera for the whole world to see how much devastation could be caused by someone with bad intent, but well equipped.

Why, you may ask, would the courts make such a poor judgement call? It has to do with the court’s fear that the wording “body armor” was too vague. Apparently, the 2nd Court of Appeals was afraid that a violent felon might be confused by the vagueness of the words; “body armor”.

I have long heard jokes and commentary about strange legal and policital decisions made in California, but I figured that most of them were over-blown by late night talk show hosts and comedians. After this recent decision, I have lost all respect for the system in California.

Maybe it’s now time for Californian Police to re-think the way in which they train to shoot. Maybe they should be taught to take “head-shots” like E.P. agents are taught in our advanced firearms training.

Hopefully the courts would not be able to screw that up as well.

Protecting the President on the Great Wall of China

It does not come as any surprise to those of us in the “business”, but for those who are unaware of how Executive Protection works, this article by Mail One online explains it in style.

For those who don’t know it, there is a world of a difference between a “bodyguard” and an E.P. agent. There may be times when you would want both on a team, but for the most part, the role of bodyguard has traditionally been associated with Brawn.

A professionally trained E.P. agent of the other hand will have much more knowledge and rely less on size to accomplish a mission. This is not to say that a larger person can not be smart or trained as well as an agent of lesser size.

One of the reasons why size has been linked to lesser or lower standards of training, is because of clients themselves. The client who requests a 6 foot 6 inch bruiser without considering whether that person has attended formal training is perpetuating the stereo type.

I have quite a few agents who stand much taller than 6 feet and weigh more than 240lbs/17 stone. Those statistics though are not their claim to fame. They are higly trained and experienced in providing not only personal/close protection for Executives/Royal families/High Net worth individuals and Celebrities.

These true professionals are also able to advise a client should I have to send them overnight on a plane thusands of miles away to Asia or Africa. They can conduct threat assessments, risk analysis and risk management duties as well as representing the client at a “C” level security briefing/planning session.

When deciding on the right E.P. security firm, clients should consider who will be able to provide agents who can blend in, remain just the right distance away, utilize modern technology to assist them in their operations, etc.

New International Executive Protection Agents

The graduates and instructors of SEXTON’s International E.P. Training Program arrived back in Miami yesterday from 7 days of International Training.

The successful graduates performed admirably during reality-based scenarios in; Cozumel, The Cayman Islands and Jamaica.

The International Training Program (I.T.P.) was designed to give E.P. agents international knowledge and real-life experience to better prepare them to handle international assignments.

The training team was interviewed by Carl Gilchrist from “The Gleaner” newspaper in Jamaica. Mr. Gilchrist was extremely interested in the unique training experience that SEXTON brought to Jamaica.

After conducting the exclusive interview, Mr. Gilchrist was treated to a hands-on demonstration of the agents “at work”.

The students successfully protected Principals from possible assaults in Cozumel from terminated employees, from street crime/violence in Jamaica and surveillance/ street attack in Grand Cayman.

“I would be proud to have these graduates protecting our current and future clients”, stated John Sexton, Director of Training for Sexton Executive Security.

September 11 – 8 Years Later

It is hard to believe that 8 years have passed already since the terrible occurances of 9-11. CNN early news commented this morning about the change in the country since those days.

If we cast our minds back, we will recall how the whole country came together as one and divisions were erased overnight. Sadly, this is not the case today. Political parties and their followers are more divided than ever about issues such as healthcare.

The general public are less concerned about future attacks as well. Those of us in the security profession realize that there is no room for complacancy, however. Terrorists can attack just about anywhere at any time.

If you are travelling with a Principal, remember the most recent attacks in Mumbai and practice your own security measures even though the hotel or venue may already have security in place. Expect the unexpected and always be prepared to react.

It will be up to you as an E.P. agent to know the political climate when you travel and to advise your Principal on where travel should be avoided or an itinerary changed as the situation dictates.

The drunken driving ads on the television say; “arrive alive”, but it is our goal that we both Arrive and Depart alive.