True Bodyguard Stories # 10 The Briefcase

Weeks prior to one of the nation’s most popular sporting events, I receive a call requesting my services to work a protection detail for a new client. After an initial telephone interview, I agree to meet with him in person to discuss the particulars of the assignment and to review the contract. I can tell this man is serious about finding the right person for the job; I live several hours away, and he offers to pay for my time, gas and to put me up in a hotel if I so desire. I drive to his home and we engage in a four-hour long interview.

It is lengthy because he is a very industrious businessman whose telephone never stops ringing, and he takes all the calls. He offers me the contract, which includes traveling by car 300 miles to the sporting event. Just before I leave he says “I’ve never done anything like this before; trusting someone like this. We will have a large sum of money with us for the duration of the trip, and I want to feel safe at all times. Your number one priority will be to protect my assets. Protect my assets at all times!” I reassure him that he, and his assets, are in good hands, and leave. A few days later, I pick up my client at his home to drive to the event. We pack up the car’s trunk with our luggage, and he places a briefcase on the backseat. Just before we’re to arrive at our destination, he gives me directions to stop at a local bank where he has wired cash to himself.

He grabs the briefcase from the backseat. I decide to err on the side of caution, and stow my firearm in the car, since every state has different laws regarding carrying firearms into banks. We enter the bank, and my client goes to a teller window. He gives the bank teller his name, and to my dismay, states rather loudly the amount of cash he is picking up–and it is a very large sum of money. He then slides the briefcase across the counter for her to fill with cash. I instantly scan the lobby and can tell that virtually everyone in the lobby has heard him say he is picking up very large sum of cash. I’m feeling a little nervous. I turn to look at everyone, in attempt to let the customers know that my client has security.

To make matters worse, the teller returns to the vault with a cart and starts counting cash out loud at the window!! Now I am really worried, so before she gets to $1000 dollars, I stop her. “Is there somewhere else we can do this, somewhere more private and away from prying eyes?” I ask the teller. She just gives me a blank look then says “No there isn’t, sir.” I ask to speak with the bank’s manager. My client is clearly annoyed, and tells me he doesn’t understand why I want the manager and that I’m holding up his errands.

I explain quietly to him that both he and the teller are oblivious to the number of people who have overheard the amount of cash he’s picking up, and now everyone in the bank will know, because she is counting it out loud, in front of all these people! I then explain that while we may be safe in the lobby, who knows what could happen once we leave the bank? Someone could use a cell phone to make a call informing a thief that a large amount of cash is leaving the bank. My client slowly turns around and sees all the people in line behind him and throughout the lobby. I can see fear in his eyes, and his face goes completely pale.

When the manager arrives I ask if her office is available for large cash transaction, and without hesitating she leads us away from the lobby to her office. My client goes into the room with her, and I hear an automatic machine counting out the cash. After the transaction has been completed, and the money is transferred to the briefcase, I ask the manager to lead us to the bank’s back exit. I take my client by the arm, and make a bee-line to our car. I strongly suggest that we should go directly to the hotel and put the money in the safe, but he doesn’t want to follow my lead. He tells me that he has other business to do within walking distance of the bank, and that it is out of the question that we lock the money in the car–he wants it in his hands at all times. So we go to the car to get my firearm, and we proceed to walk down the street with him carrying the briefcase.

I know this is not at all a good decision, but he’s the client, it’s a new relationship, and I’m trying to be obliging. But I am not at all comfortable. I am looking around, checking to see who is in the vicinity, taking in our surrounds, and then his cell phone rings. He gets call after call as we’re trying to get to the neighboring businesses he needs to visit, and every time he answers a call, he puts the briefcase on the ground. Problem is, he gets so involved in his calls, that he’s walking around, sitting on benches, playing with leaves on trees. His mind is a thousand miles away from his cash-crammed briefcase. I am like a mother hen protecting her eggs–I am standing over the briefcase, with it between my legs. Finally, I take the briefcase in hand and stand off to the side of a storefront watching my client babble on and on.

He finishes the call and goes to the spot where he has left the briefcase ten minutes earlier, and terror washes over his face. He spots me and rushes over, “Where’s the briefcase, where’s the briefcase!?” I lift it up to show him I have it and he says, “Thank you,” and takes it from me again. We continue down the street, and he continues to take phone calls. I have to pick up the briefcase four more times because he has forgotten about it while he’s doing business on the phone.

Finally, he gets rather surly and confronts me; “Look, man, I know I hired you to be my security, but you are killing me by picking up my briefcase every time I put it down. You are going to give me a heart attack. We need to come to some kind of understanding as to exactly what it is I want you to do.” I look at him a long moment, then take a deep breath. “It was my understanding that you wanted your assets protected at all times. We have been walking in an outside mall for more than an hour, with a very large amount of cash with us. You want to hold on to the briefcase, but you keep
putting it down and forgetting about it. Did you happen to notice the guy in the blue button-down shirt and baseball cap talking to the lady in the purple dress? Well, they were both at the bank when you made your very public withdrawal. They have been in our vicinity for some time now.” I have a long-time history working undercover in law-enforcement, and my hackles are up.

My instincts are telling me that something may be very wrong. I don’t know if these people are waiting for a chance to grab the briefcase, or if they’ve called someone to grab it further down the road. My
gut is telling me to take some sort of action. What my client doesn’t know, is that I have already called a friend of mine with the local police department, and arranged a “Terry Stop.” During the course of a law
enforcement agent’s Terry Stop, if the officer feels that the suspect is in possession of a weapon that is of danger to himself or others, he may conduct a pat down of the suspect’s outer clothing garments to search for weapons. Officers then fill-out a Field Interview card, noting the person(s) name and other identifying information.

I tell my client that the police are on their way, and that once they arrive, I strongly suggest that we return immediately to our vehicle with a uniformed escort and proceed to the hotel and place the briefcase in the safe. My client finally gets the picture. Once the police arrive, he agrees to go to the hotel. Once we check in, and the briefcase is secured, I go to my client’s adjoining room. I apologize for being brusque with him, but he is quick to concede that I had done nothing wrong. I spend the next two hours in my client’s room, giving him a basic security awareness course. I explain that protective agents don’t just stand around, looking menacing. I explain why clients should walk on the building side of the sidewalk, and not the street side. I gave him tips that can help him to protect his own family.
Taking the time to share what it is we do, and why, means the client can play an active role in his own safety. By educating him, I earned his trust, and elevated his confidence in my skills. It worked out so well, that I am booked to work the same security detail with him for the next three years.

  • avi

    like so many other protectees’ your principal is a nightmare lol
    good drills though, from briefings to the Police call, i’ve never been in a sit where i had to leave my weapons in a car though, hmm maybe on another occasion you can do an advance @ that bank .. great article though..good luck
    watch ur 6*

  • John Donaldson Jr

    Great story. I am a person who also says be aware of your surroundings. Also never second guess your 1st guess of a area your in that seems out of place. When one practices safety for a long time that 3rd eye opens and that is how we survive.

  • Maxwell

    Executives can be very stubborn.

  • http://pes-inc.us Phoenix Executive Services

    Well handled my friend. You kept your cool, explained the situation calmly, and called for reinforcements. I also liked that you were very cognizant of being armed in a bank in a state where your concealed weapons status in a bank was in question. There is no need to get killed by a bank security officer when the protectee is attempting a withdrawal.
    Might I suggest two things, first, consider giving your client a security brief prior to accepting the job, sounds like you did an excellent job of it in the hotel room. However, a client who appears, upon first meeting them, to be security deficient would benefit in a lecture about how you do business. The pre-brief could have also established the protectee’s schedule for the day which would have allowed you to conduct a protective advance of any locations the protectee wished to visit. You handled yourself well and conducted your protective advance “on the fly”. You identified and acknowledged the bank issues well and devised an appropriate plan.
    Second, once the protectee’s schedule was identified you could have requested to have a second protective agent to act as your driver or backup (as needed). Remember though, the driver should always stay with the vehicle(s). The driver could act as your second pair of eyes, call for uniformed help, and knows the routs to avoid delays and trouble.
    Please don’t think of this as a criticism, I think you did a great job with what you had, you were forceful when you needed to be, flexible enough to get the job done, and wise enough to notice when there were problems. I appreciate you don’t have a 40 agent protective detail and admire your courage. If you have any questions or further comment about my suggestions, please feel free to visit our website, http://pes-inc.us/default.aspx, or you can email us at pesinc@rocketmail.com. Our advice is free to anyone who wants it. Keep up the great work and “Semper Gumby!”
    Phoenix Executive Services Management Team

  • http://abusakaho@hotmail.com Dauda Ishaku

    Interesting story.As Maxwell said, Executives can be very stubborn. Always use your Number 6,or in some countries you may end up calling the wrong people. Instead to assist in protecting your client,they will contribute in given out your information.

  • http://www.swriskadvisors.com SW Risk

    One thing I have learned is that what people say they want and what they really want are not always the same thing.

    I am not inclined to Monday morning QB your detail or give instruction. My main take away was always make sure you understand the firearms rules where you are going.

    The second is when it is time to do your job- take action, I think you handled this very well and it is a good reminder to everyone that reads it about the complexities of this job.

  • http://pantherprotectionservices.com Six

    Well handled, new client relationships can be tough. Business Executives and other high profile people can something be a challenge as they live their whole career with people saying yes. Despite the operators skills until the client has an issue and you save their tail, they often don’t value the services. After that you are more important to them than their spouse.

    It is always wise to be knowledgeable of the laws where you are traveling. I am not worried about the bank guard shooting me (concealed carry, if your weapon is printing it is not concealed) as I am more concerned about if there is an incident and I have to use my weapon having to now explain why I have a weapon and violating the law (short ride to jail for the operator).

    Great job in calling in back up with the police or as others suggested calling in a second operator to provide enhanced coverage as the components of the detail started to change based on the clients started to become irresponsible.

    I always try to do a security briefing in advance of the detail, and if the client drastically changes the detail, I call in a second or third operator even if I have to pay for the operator myself. Rule number one if you can’t stay safe you can’t keep the client safe.

    Great job with holding your ground with the client and your actions in conjunction with the briefing at the hotel picked you up a new client!

  • http://www.bishopinnovativegroup.com Bishop

    Hucky thanks for posting it…..it was my first time seeing it.