Executive Protection - Put away the rule book

Executive protection, close protection, some say they are the same, some think completely different. I personally categorise executive protection as work in low to medium risk environments.

I've worked in executive protection now for nearly four years and I can say the biggest thing I've learnt is to throw the rule book away on what you were taught on your CP course. Hostile environment work can be black and white, very much threat dependent and due to the high risk environment on the whole what you are taught on your close protection course largely fits adapted to the situation and client of course.

With executive protection it's very much client driven, of course you would never compromise safety but there is a large element of brand, image and facilitation that dictate the way you conduct yourself.

In a low threat environment with no specific threat then you have to be mindful of the opportunity to allow the principal to lead a normal life but be on hand to manage a situation should it be necessary.

Many clients I have worked with will open a car window, and why wouldn't they, they do it all the time when I'm not working with them, and in a low threat environment with no specific threat there is no reason not to. Some operators would find this incomprehensible as the syllabus dictates you do not crack the seal, but is it not worth allowing the principal normality only for the very slightest chance that something might happen.

The same goes for bag carrying, if the principal wants you to carry a bag then there is no reason not to. You're as much a facilitator and again for the slightest chance of something happening do you really want to say no, seem inflexible, reduce the rapport you have built up or worse risk the likelihood of losing employment.

The principal operator relationship is key, trust established so that when you do need to act, a firm word will ensure they know to act upon what you are saying immediately. On the other hand if you are constantly requesting they act in a certain manner or moving them away as you don't feel comfortable then when it comes to the point when it's imperative they act your requests don't seem as urgent.

When walking down the street just stay at their side, it's great that you might have been taught to place a barrier between the principal and any potential threat but the last thing they need is you zig zagging all over the street on a relaxing stroll home from the office.

When it comes to car driving, the principle is very similar, a nice steady, safe drive. The more you drive defensively the more likely you are to attract attention, in addition to that it won't be as smooth for the principal who is probably trying to work or rest in the rear of the vehicle.

Spacing comes with experience, confidence and education. The more you understand the role, environment you work in, the threat and of course the principal, the more space you can give them. Walking down the street you don't need to be by their side, if they stop off for a coffee you don't need to be in the same shop, or if at a sports match with friends they shouldn't have to know you are there, this is where the better operators are able to showcase high quality protective surveillance.

Recce's can be invaluable and if you have time then they should be conducted but you don't always need to introduce yourself to everyone and let them know you and your client will be in the area that day. Sometimes a nice discreet recce followed by a low profile arrival and introduction as a project manager is all that is needed to allow a smooth and secure entry into a venue.

Of course I'm not saying that you would ever compromise safety but part of my BG brief is 'I would like you to try and go about your day as normally as possible and I will work around you' and that's where I try to ensure that an era of normality is instilled in what can otherwise be quite an intimate working relationship.

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