Bodyguard Careers has addressed this topic before on this site (A SLIPPERY SLOPE: Balancing Ethics With Discretion as a Bodyguard) but I think it is worth another examination, given a breaking news story. As many of you may already know, former Navy SEAL bodyguard Stephen “Otter” Otten has been sent to jail for refusing to cooperate with an investigation into his employer’s former company, Broadcom Corporation. The company is under investigation for illegally backdating stock options and falsifying reported income. The jailed man’s attorney stated on behalf of Otten that “SEALs don’t snitch.”
I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m not sure I’d be willing to go to jail for my employer’s (alleged) misconduct or indiscretions or illegal activity.
I am curious as to how it is that Otten would be in possession of any corporate information as regards Broadcom–or that Otten was even aware of any wrong-doing on the part of his employer. Perhaps he was witness to certain meetings, or heard conference calls, nobody knows for certain. My understanding is that his job was to protect his employer’s children.
I do know that over the long haul of my years as a bodyguard, I saw things that were questionable, and witnessed all kinds of behavior–but never felt that I was in a position of being held accountable or responsible for another adult’s actions. BUT I also learned when to draw the line and let my employers know that I was not going to participate in anything illegal.
I can imagine how a young person, who is being paid a hefty salary could be convinced by an employer to conduct themselves in ways that serve their employer, but harm themselves. Which is why it is vital that bodyguards not become “star-struck” with the celebrity they are paid to protect. It is important to remember that these individuals–no matter how famous, rich, or influential–are people who are subject to the same laws and will suffer consequences for illegal actions.
It is extremely important to let your employer know that you will not participate in illegal activities of any kind. As to morals, that is something of a “gray” area. Some clients will cheat. Some will lie. Some will want you to “cover” for them. At some point, you may be in a position where you will need to ask yourself if the paycheck is worth it. If you sign on to work with a client who is known to be involved in drugs, or risky behavior you have signed on to an assignment that could potentially land you in hot water.Â
I think the wisest thing to do would be to remind your employer that just as you are keeping them safe and secure from harm, that you expect the same from them. Tell them in advance that you’re not willing to risk arrest. If you’ve been hired and it is clear that your employer is putting you in jeopardy you may need to resign. There is no “gray” area if it’s a choice between jail or a paycheck. The law is black and white.
You said the magic words, “star struck”. The young body guard was sucked into the world of the rich and famous to where he believed he was actually a member of the family. There is no honor when you protect dishonesty. Be up front and set your boundaries before you accept the job.
Why is it that so many skilled individuals refuse or just dont think to put an “integrity” clause in their contracts? I am constantly amazed at how many otherwise squared away guys dont even bother to draw up a contract. A contract is crucial to addressing any and all grievances should a questionable situation arise. And least we for get the “non-confront” clause…two holy grails in my opinion.
I agree with you law is above anybody, you should not break it and go to the jail
â€œI do know that over the long haul of my years as a bodyguard, I saw things that were questionable, and witnessed all kinds of behaviorâ€“but never felt that I was in a position of being held accountable or responsible for another adultâ€™s actions. BUT I also learned when to draw the line and let my employers know that I was not going to participate in anything illegal. [immoral or unethical]â€
So walking the line…..ethics. I have been put in many situations acting as security when I have had to “advise” the client that I was being asked to break the law by doing this or that. Having a clause as suggested is a great idea, if questioned and asked by law enforcement (at the risk of being guilty of assosiation) is just not worth the headaches.
Yes one should volenteer the information of one’s client but one should also cooperate with the law aswell. As for the term “snitch” well that goes to the volenteering aspect.
If the “body guard” has truely done his/her home work he will know the threats, and what type which will tell the “body guard” what type of business the client is in, which in turn the Body Guard will then be able to say yes or no to the job/contract.
Intergity goes a long way and if done right will always be respected from the “guilty” parties. They will I am sure understand if the proffessional Body Guard refuses to compromise his own intergity for someone elses bad habbits.
Im not in the bus. anymore, I came back to the Army, been away from the bus. for about a year now. I understand your point of view. BUT with that said, arent we paid to protect our client no matter what? And a step further, our “client” now doesnt that include our clients interests? Im not saying i disagree with your viewpoint, Im just stating my opinion…. Stay safe my friend
Being an both exmilitary and an excop I am not a fan of the word “snitching” as it is used a lot by criminals trying to scare/intimidate people who would other wise testify against them from doing so thus enabling the criminal and allowing to act with impunity.
They use this term to apply to people who are NOT in the criminal’s direct employ and to the average citizen who may be a victim or a witness to criminal acts.
The issue in this case isn’t about “snitching”. It is about a professional who was contracted to do a job and part of that job was to maintain a degree of discretion. The client is paying for that (unless otherwise stated in the contract which I recommend some type of clause concerning ilegal activity).
I admire his intergrity in the case but I do not agree with his use of the term “snitch”. Instead it should have been stated, “Seals maintain a high level degree of integrity and do not betray the confidences they have sworn to keep”.
Now the side issue is that, depending on the activity in question, that Seal (if he truly had a high degree of integrity) would not have allowed himself to become involved in any serious criminal endeavors.