D.C. Police Chief Admits that Charlie Sheen Escort Violated Department Policies

In his article in the Washington Times about the Charlie Sheen Police Escort,  Matthew Cella quoted MPD Police Chief Cathy Lanier as having admitted that the Sheen escort broke multiple department rules.  No offense Cathy or Matthew, but those of us in the Executive Protection field realized that, the minute we saw crazy Charlie taking a cell phone picture of the speed odometer, documenting for the world to see that the D.C. Police cruiser in front was pushing 80 miles an hour, 30 miles outside of their jurisdiction.

I do have to say, that Chief Lanier sounded very honest and open during the WTOP radio interview this afternooon when talking about how one of her “middle managers” (“probably a Lieutenant”, she said) wrongfully authorized the problematic escort of a Hollywood celebrity.  I was about ready to give her a “thumbs up” until she began justifying why her officers would have broken the rules.   

Chief Lanier went on to tell the interviewer that it wasn’t really that surprising that her officers went outside of their jurisdiction, sped and drove with their emergency lights flashing.  “Afterall”, she said, “Police are only human and we can’t expect them not to be awe struck when dealing with celebrities”.  What you talkin’ about Cathy? 

Yes, Police Officers are human, but no – they are certainly not like the average citizen.  They go through a different training, have broad sweeping powers that regular people do not share and have the ability to take another’s liberty and even life, if necessary.  They should damn well be held to a higher standard and we should expect far more from them than we would do from a 13 year old girl waiting for a “Bieber appearance” outside of a concert hall.  

I would wager that if you took a survey of all Executive Protection Agents (definitely all E.P. Agency owners), they would tell you that when they are hired to work in close proximity of a celebrity, they are not “awe struck” by that person.  If I ever discovered that one of my bodyguards had broken the law or embarrased my company or themselves on an E.P. detail, that would be the last time they would work for me.  The ironic thing is that when it comes to private sector Executive Protection, most Agents are more highly trained and experienced than local Police Officers.         

Apparently, the Metropolitan Police Department rules allows officers to perform escort duty for The President, Vice Prez, visiting Heads of State and the Mayor.  I sure am glad that I am not an MPD “middle manager” trying to figure out which category that “Tiger Blood” Charlie fits into. 

The Profession Needs More Clients like Jennifer Aniston

Sometime you can’t but help feel sorry for celebrities. Take Jennifer Aniston.

Writing for the M&C site yesterday, Isla Harvey reported that Ms. Aniston visited Al Biernat’s restaurant in Dallas last Saturday and had a team of bodyguards “sweep” the inside before entering.

The article then makes mention that four bodyguards protected Ms. Aniston and the cast from her latest movie; “Just Go With It”. The tone of the article is that Ms. Aniston’s safety precautions were “over the top”.

Why would anybody think that a top box office attraction like Ms. Aniston (not to mention she was accompanied by another famous star; Adam Sandler), would not be concerned for her safety?

The writer highlights the fact that the Ambassador to Ireland recently dined at the same restaurant and was only accompanied by one bodyguard. Did they ever stop to think that maybe 99% of the people in the U.S. would not recognize the Ambassador to Ireland if he passed them in the street?

We say congratulations to Ms. Aniston for taking her safety so seriously. She is a brand name and just like Rolex or Gucci will fight to protect their brand, so should she.

Here’s hoping that more clients pay more attention to their security in 2011 and beyond. Here’s also hoping that the media will act responsibly and not belittle someone trying to do the right thing for the sake of a “story”.

Back to reality – we’ll settle for people paying more attention to their security.

Keeping Your Edge and Not Letting Your Guard Down

SEXTON Team members provided coverage for a very unique asset at the D.C. Car Show.

Our client recently purchased “Barricade” – the Saleen Mustang specially built for the hit hollywood movie; “The Transformers”. The owner then graciously allowed it to be viewed at the D.C. auto show over the past two weeks.

The client knew every square inch of the vehicle and lovingly pointed out every piece that had Hollywood history attahced to it – such as the three small dents on the lower driver’s door where a stunt man on a bicycle ran into the car in one scene.

At the end of the evening on the last night, preparations were underway to remove the security tape and rope barriers so that the vehicle and others could be driven through the sallyport and out of the D.C. Covention Center.

In a couple of split seconds as “Barricade” was being readied for the drive, a Convention employee came over to the vehicle and sat down against the side of it. This annoyed the client, who had been buffing down the vehicle every day and making sure that nobody got close to it.

One of our Agents was within two to three feet of where the woman decided to sit, so he was able to encourage her to move without much delay. It was however, a good lesson to show that even when a detail may be “winding down”, Agents can’t afford to let their guard down.

Nor should Agents concentrate on trying to profile a threat. By keeping an open mind and open eyes, you will be better prepared for any thing that comes along, in any shape or form. Just because a person works at a facility (how about if they only “appear” to be working?), does not guarantee that they are legit.

Anyone who has ever conducted investigations in the workplace knows that employees often get hired without sufficent (or any) background checks having been performed. At the end of the day, it is the protective Agent who has the responsibility to make sure that a bad guy do not “slip through the cracks”.

Stay alert, stay on point and expect the unexpected.

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.

After being fired by Bad Pitt, Mickey Brett joins list of washed-up bodyguards

Hollywood must produce more washed-up bodyguards than the Florida coastline does driftwood. The difference being, you could probably find some use for the driftwood.

Mickey Brett, former “bodyguard” to the Pitt/Jolie family is about to “write” a tell-all book after getting fired last year. Actually he appears to have hired a “ghost writer”. Which is not all that surprising.

It’s a pity that these types get assistance in their low-life pursuits. It would be more interesting if they were made to write it themselves. Now that would be funny. It would probably also be very short, contain few words of more than one syllable and would have a lot of pictures – most likely drawn in crayon.

For the life of me I can not understand why celebrities hire so many ill-trained, ill-mannered thugs to “protect” them when they turn out needing protection from the very ones they hired in the first place.

With all of the good companies out there, it should be an easy enough decision. They should be spoiled for choice. One wonders from whom they are receiving advice.

When does a bodyguard need to shoot into a crowd?

A story out of Mumbai,India caught my attention today. A politician’s bodyguard shot into a crowd of people and killed a man.

While professional Executive Protection Agents no longer refer to themselves as “bodyguards”, if we nonetheless examine that “handle”, we can break it down as; “a person who guards (protects) the body of another”. If I was tasked with the investigation of this shooting incident in India, one of the very first places I would look at would be the training manuals of those involved. If they were Policemen, I would demand to be allowed to inspect that Department’s training guides that were used when training their “bodyguards”. Same thing would apply if they belonged to a private company/entity.

I very seriously doubt that I would find any directive anywhere authorizing those assigned to the protective detail to fire haphazzardly into a crowd of people. To me, this suggests that the bodyguard either panicked or was placed in the position without any professional training (most probable explanation). Anyone who has spent more than 15 minutes in E.P. training knows that the responsibility of the Protective Agent(s) is to evacuate their client (Principal). Shooting into crowds of people would be out of place, even in far-fetched Hollywood. I am quite sure that Indian society is nothing near as litigious as it is here in the Western world, but I still suspect that there is a smart lawyer somewhere in India trying to contact the victim’s family. I believe the case will be his for the winning.

Ironically, I contactd a company in India a couple of months back with a proposal to train their Executive Protection staff. Without ever hearing a price, they contacted me back and said they were sure they couldn’t afford us (eventhough they are one of the largest employers in India). Which makes me wonder, how do you put a price on a human life and what would you consider a fair price to have your people professionally trained so that you were not sued by the family/next of kin of someone killed by one of your employees? By the way, this question can be asked of any employer anywhere in the world who is in the business of either safeguarding their own employees, or protecting the life of others.

In Real Estate it is about; “Location, Location, Location”. In security, it is about; “Training, Training, Training”. I sincerely hope that many get to know of this incident (including nearly all of the Hollywood stars who allow their Protectors to assault people on a regular basis)and begin to realize the importance of having a professionally trained person taking care of them. Hiring some big guy with a couple of years military experience is not good enough.

That would be like hiring a person for a plastic surgery procedure whose only experience was carving the Thanksgiving turkey. Who’d be the turkey then?

Hollywood P.I. Found Guilty on 76 of 77 Charges.

Hollywood P.I., Anthony Pellicano was found guilty on 76 counts last Thursday. Pellicano was accused of having wiretapped the phones of such celebrities as Sylvester Stallone and running the names of other celebs through Law Enforcement databases.

People like Pellicano give hard working private investigators out there a bad name and he won’t get any sympathy from us. New investigators who might have looked up to him due to the list of celebrity clients who hired him should see this as a valuable lesson. Honesty, loyalty, respect for the law and your clients – these are what is important. Being able to to say that such-and-such film star is a client and then go around breaking laws to get what you want, is a sure fire way to wind up in an orange jump-suit.

No doubt Mr. Pellicano will have plenty of time to contemplate this as he will soon have plenty of time on his hands. Unfortunately, there are clients out there who request investigators to break the law just so that they can get what they want. It would be interesting to have seen some of Pellicano’s famous clients being charged as accomplices and swapping their Italian designer suits for the County’s comfortable “day-glo” clothing and to join him on the baloney sandwich line on the inside.

Now that would be an interesting message to send out.

The importance of choosing the right security team to "watch your back".

The recent bad press that Nicole Kidman’s bodyguard brought down upon himself is once again bringing the profession under the microscope.

Eventhough they do say that there is no such things as bad publicity, it would make you wonder when you take a look at the recent Kidman case. As a personal protection specialist, there are things that you can do, other than resorting to violence.

We teach common sense principles at our executive protection course and one of our readers, Cory, made me realize that we should probably be mentioning those ideas here so that readers will get the other side of the story.

For those just thinking about breaking into the industry, be advised that acting like a thug is not the way that true professionals behave. Yes, I would have thought that a major star like Nicole Kidman would be able to hire the best of the best but some of her friends might have “known somebody who knew somebody” as the old phrase goes.

There are celebrities who act like they do not want the attention when they really do. Those are the difficult ones to protect. If a celebrity really wants to be left alone, members of the protective team can make it seem as if they are taking the celebrity out one door, but that is just a decoy and the real celeb goes out another door unnoticed.

It is also possible to agree to an organized photo session so that the various papers and magazines get all of the shots they need and they do not have to resort to chasing vehicles down,risking serious injury an maybe even death.

Beating up a camera person or interviewer is never allowed. If the Police get involved, most likely the security person would be charged with assault. The reports we hear about on the internet or the news usually only mention the incident, not what happened to the over-zealous security person once the case goes to court.

Which goes to show you, when you need to hire a security person, do not rely on the referral of a friend who might know someone whose cousin just got out of the army. Use the services of a professional security company and verify their training and experience. All good companies will be able to document the credentials of their employees.

This is not a bodyguard – this is a walking lawsuit.

If you are like me and you view the latest “bodyguard gone wild” video, you can’t help but wonder, how many millions of dollars will this uncontrollable violent outburst cost Nicole Kidman.

As someone who not only hires personal protection agents, but who also trains them, I can tell you that Ms. Kidman would be far better off looking after herself than being “protected” by this unprofessional hothead. Not only did her security person make a grave mistake by assaulting and battering the photographer in question, but he left her totally unprotected when he jumped out of the vehicle in a rage.

What would he have done if this were a trap? If someone wished to harm Ms. Kidman, or kidnap her, they could have staged this. The ‘photographer’ could have merely been bait used to lure her security and trick him into leaving his vehicle. Being unproteced, another bad guy could have easily harmed her at that stage.

I do not know where celebrities hire amateurs like this. I could refer them to dozens of professional security firms who highly value their professional reputations and who would never dream of hiring an incompetent like this. I would like to think that poor judgement is confined to Hollywood celebrities, but I know that is not the case.

Sometime people hire a “friend of a friend” who used to be in the army, or who used to be a night club bouncer. Those hires are always a mistake. The have LIABILITY written all over them. Whenever you hire someone to work for you, stop and think what might happen if they are not who or what they claim to be.

What happens if they use drugs and have an accident while driving your company vehicle? What happens if they have a temper problem like Ms. Kidman’s employee? I think you already know the answer and it isn’t pretty.

Do yourself a big favor and always do your due diligence. Or you could always hire an expensive law firm. Lawyers have to eat too, I suppose.

Providing executive protection for Lindsay Lohan, Brad Pitt, Mel Gobson and other Hollywood stars

I’ve been hearing a lot of talk this past while about Hollywood stars hiring ex-Israeli Commandos to protect them. Reporters are calling it “the latest craze”.

As a security professional, I am always suspect about anything that can be described as a “craze” or a “fad”. Executive Protection or Personal Protection is not a new phenomenon. Unfortunately, Hollywood celebrities have not always proved to be the best judges in the past when it comes to deciding who to pick for their personal protection.

Many of Hollywood’s leading stars have had (and some still do) big burly guys with names like “Tiny” and “Big Mo”. Astute corporate executives on the other hand, realize the importance of hiring intelligent agents who can make split-second decisions and assist with the planning of the client’s itinerary.

Hollywood clients beware; not every Israeli soldier belonged to a crack counter-terrorism unit. As a security employer, I am all too aware of how the truth very often gets stretched. It is not difficult for a truck driver to turn into a special forces commando merely by traveling to a new location.

Caveat Emptor; even those who are assigned to apecialized units need to have their credentials checked. This article from an Israeli publication highlights the fact that one of the Israeli bodyguards who “protected” Prime Minister Rabin on the night he was assasinated in 1995, is now the senior Israeli in charge of the security detail that will be protecting President Bush when he travels over there next month.

Maybe Hollywood needs to think less about muscle and hype and rely on U.S. companies who hire professionals with Secret Service and Diplomatic Security Service experience and whose backgrounds can be easily verified.