You finally get the nod from your supervisor; after months of doing “halls and walls, (standing posts), you are going to perform your first Protective Security Advance. In other words, you have been designated to proceed ahead of the principal’s security detail and will be charged with protecting your company’s principal and liaison with officials at each of the sites he will be visiting. In this case, let’s assume your principal is a CEO of a firm headquartered in Chicago but he will be traveling to New York City to attend a three-day conference. Generally, especially in government protective security organizations, an advance is completed by a team of agents; however, in this case you work for a moderately sized private sector company and this particular principal is frugal and is attempting to acquire top notch security on the cheap.
First, although your agency’s travel representative should already be aware of your detail’s itinerary, it is normally the responsibility of the detail leader to inform the travel office that agents, or an agent, will be traveling in advance of the detail. However, it is a good idea to contact your firm’s travel agent to ensure they have taken the appropriate steps concerning appropriate air travel, rental car reserved for you at the correct NYC airport, and hotel reservations for the entire time frame you will be in the Big Apple. Generally, you will need about three to four days to advance the detail’s itinerary, and the same number of days the protection team will be on the ground. Not only will you advance each site prior to arrival of the detail in New York, you will then hop and skip from site to site advancing each one and in essence staying one step in front of the security unit.
Secondly, you stop by the firm’s Threat Management division and retrieve a copy of the latest Threat Assessment relating to your principal’s trip. You review this document for any general and/or specific threats that could be a danger to the principal while he is in New York. If he is bringing his family, you will review the sections covering his wife and children. One of the most important sections of a threat assessment focuses on the health concerns of the principal and his family, specifically medical conditions, prescription medications–any health concerns that could place the principal and his family at risk while visiting any site on his itinerary. Once you obtain the itinerary (be prepared to adapt to changes to scheduled meetings, dinners with clients, etc), you, as the advance agent must match up these sites with health care facilities that either specialize in the relevant health concerns of your client and/or family.
Barring that, know which local medical facilities are predisposed to handle Medical Evacuation by air to fly patients to the appropriate care. In large cities, most major hospitals will be able to accommodate your needs. Of course, you will want to know what hospitals are designated as trauma centers, and where these are located in New York. This material should already be in the Threat Assessment. Threat Assessments cover everything from medical vulnerabilities to the local crime tempo, where the police precincts are located in the area of responsibility in which the detail will be operational, and of course, specific threats, such as kidnapping or death threats made against your principal or a member of his family.
These may have been obtained via law enforcement, security units, or sources inside and outside government. If the Threat Assessment contains this more dangerous material, be sure to contact the source of the intelligence and comprehensively debrief them regarding the threat. If a perpetrator is named, contact the local law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction for the area in which the perpetrator is located, notify them of this data, send them any information they need. BE SURE TO OBTAIN A SPECIFIC POINT OF CONTACT IN THAT AGENCY WITH WHOM YOU WILL ROUTINELY COMMUNICATE THROUGHOUT, AND PERHAPS AFTER, THE PROTECTIVE DETAIL IS TERMINATED.Â
Include all this specific information in your routine briefings to the detail leader. He or she needs to know everything you learn, and of course, all steps you have established at each site on the itinerary relating to the principal. For example: Where will the principal be sitting at a restaurant, where the stash car will be located, any safe rooms you have set up, etc. You can be outstanding in your liaison activities and establish the best security plan in the history of dignitary protection, but unless the detail leader and shift supervisors know what you have set up, it is all for naught. Not everyone needs to know what you have set up, however. Inform each restaurant owner, museum curator, theater manager, etc. that you deal with that the information you have discussed must remain as confidential as possible.
Inform him or her that you are aware they have reporting requirements, just be sure you relate to them that confidentiality is crucial to making your plan operational.
Your next stop should be to an ATM machine! You will need cash for taxis in New
York once the protective detail is on the ground and you are skipping from one site to the next. Always have at least $200 in cash and a major credit card in your wallet. While you are in the New York prior to the detail’s arrival, run your vehicular routes from site to site. If you intend to have a “stash car” available you will have to rent this extra car along with the rest of the cars (yes, the advance man rents the cars, and you would do this via telephone from Chicago – so you can obtain the types of vehicles you need, you should contact the rental agency well in advance of your trip).
When you pick up the rental, try to make contact with the manager of the local rental car company (such as Hertz or Avis) and thank him or her for their outstanding support. Consider furnishing them with a letter of appreciation from the president of your firm. Or, via your detail leader, request a letter of appreciation from the President of the company be sent to the immediate supervisor of the individual who made your reservations. Something like:“I would like to acknowledge the outstanding assistance Jane Doe, Manager, Mid-Town Manhattan Branch provided ABC Security in supporting my agents during a recent protective security operation.”
Next, check your equipment, documents, notes, most recent Threat Assessment, reservations, etc. Don’t forget your passport! You don’t know how many times I have been on a detail in a domestic city, and without any indication was informed to proceed to London or Paris to assist in an advance in preparation of a meeting my principal decided he must attend. Of course, have your driver’s license, and any identification material, e.g. badges, credentials, lapel pins that your agency has provided you for use during the detail.
When you arrive in New York, pick-up your rental. The reason you are using this for the advance is because it will be one of the protective detail’s vehicles. Normally, you would use public transportation for an advance in New York simply because it is difficult to find inexpensive parking. If your principal is high profile, you may be able to acquire the services of a NYC Police Department Intelligence Division detective to assist. If that is the case, parking is a non-issue. Most likely, you will be dealing with parking and traffic, so get used to it! Your detail will be moving through heavy traffic and you will need to know what routes they will be using because you will have established the safest routes to each location.
The way an advance of this nature functions is that during the detail you will advance one site (let’s say a restaurant), so as the motorcade is approaching the site, the shift leader will advise you via radio that he or she is 10 minutes, five minutes, two minutes, and then you will see them approaching. At this point, you advise the shift leader, “I have you visual.”Then you guide them into the motorcade exit location in front of the eatery. Do this by making yourself visual to the driver of the limousine or lead car, and once the limousine is where you want it to stage, you point your finger to the ground indicating: “stop here.”
Wait until the agent in charge exits the front passenger side of the limo and then you move a few paces forward so he can let the principal out of the car. Remember, your goal is to limit the amount of time the principal is in plain site and vulnerable. So, you proceed forward and into the restaurant and to the table (normally at the rear of the restaurant or preferably a private room).Â It is the job of the agent in charge to hold the door for the principal. In a restaurant setting you and the agent in charge will sit at a table close to the principal, the shift leader or another agent will be present; however, the other agents will deal with staging the motorcade. These are concerns you have already worked out during the actual advance, e.g.
where the motorcade is parked while the principal is at a site; seats for theater shows; picking the principal up via motorcade, perhaps with a police escort, on the tarmac of the airport; etc.
You may stay at the restaurant approximately 20 minutes then you will proceed to the next site and do the same procedures as you did at the eatery. This is what the advance agent does during the entire detail; he or she leap frogs from one site to the other ensuring that everything you have worked out regarding each site during the advance before the detail arrived in town, has been set according to your agreement with that facility’s management.
Finally, you head to the airport and if you have done your homework, your principal will wait for his or her flight via the particular airline’s Club (this also acts as an excellent safe haven while in the crowded airport). At this point, you become part of the detail and escort the principal to the outbound flight and remain at the airport until wheels up–the plane is in the air, and the wheels are tucked into the plane.
In my experience, the advance is the portion of the protective service detail that will make or break how your agency is presented to the principal. For a successful outcome working as the advance agent, you must have each site well prepared to accommodate; from both a security and comfort perspective. You must have communicated appropriately with local law enforcement for support, and have handled the leap frog portion of the advance in a precise manner. When all this runs smoothly–you will shine brighter than anyone else on the detail! As the advance agent, you are as important as a director is to a movie or stage production. Remember to be proactive and innovative and follow all the basic common sense steps involved in an advance, and you will do just fine. Good luck!
I read your article and all the comments that followed and enjoyed them very much.All comments were correct from the ideal situations(having enerything at your disposal)to not having anything(the reality of working in NYC,parking and dealing with the NYPD).I have been in this profession for 18 years and have found the agents with little resources(like myself)have to be better than agents in bigger more resoursful details.If I went to a detail that had advance people and primary agents I would find the job alot easier than the way I have it now(which is I do everything).Just as an agent going from a detail with plenty of resources to a penny pinching opperation(and you’ll be surprised how many of these are out there) is going to have a difficult time adjusting.But you can’t succeed in this profession with out knowing how to do the job correctly.Great article.
suit correction in spelling
would like to offically become a bodyguard starting from the bottom no uniform. siut or casual yes.fit into the norm type work. ive done personal bobyguard work for a cpa ceo and her agents for 2 years.so does that count as already being a boudyguard.what certifications would i need.dont want a gun. unless other wise.
Thank you for the response. One question for you and others who may choose to comment. Your articale related how to conduct a proper advance detail. Could you please elaborate on what information you obtain from each venue. An example for me is, I speak with several levels of management and employees for each venue. I obtain information on how the rythum of the venue operates on any given night. I like to use thier insight on the nights I actually have a client in thier buisness. If they tell me someting seems off with the “energy” as compared to other times, I use that information as part of my overall decision making process. Some times that means I investigate the venue further and/or evacuate my client. This is a very basic description of this process but you get the idea. So any suggestions you have or related experiences would be great!
AEDAN, that is what I am trying to stress by writing the article. If you have the funding, by all means we want the multi-team advance, follow car, etc. However, nothing is more important than advancing your details than what you are doing: you are building long lasting relationships with business, government, and key officials in the cities your principal visits. This diplomatic and tactful liaison will pay off for you big time. If your principal is being stalked, local law enforcement support (especially if you have built those friendly relationships with those departments) will be a breeze. Sometimes you have to humble yourself. Believe me, I know it is not easy, but it is better to augment your detail (you) with a few uniforms or detectives then have a stalker succeed. In many respects, I-Band (see above) has very valid points, afterall you cannot move mountains. But with a little grease as you put it, you may be able to push a hill or two. You are on the right track, and you are thinking ahead to a time when your principal has the funds to put toward security. When she hits it big, remind her of the stalker and how dangerous this time was and convince her that some of her new found wealth must go to hiring more EP agents. JD
I am sorry I got in this conversation late,but I would like to add anyways. I have a client currently that has a known threat, stalker. She however, does not have major dollars to spend on protection. I work solo for her when she travels. I cannot stress, for me, how important my advance work and relationship building has been. I generally travel ahead of her shows by one day. I leave her in a secure location, and retrieve her. (Kinda a leap frog technique). My advance work is focused mainly on building relationships with specific vendors. I background check these vendors and train them on what I need. If this process is done well, I gain good general information from known vendors and plan accordingly. Then when I working on the short time arrival, some of the groundwork is done. As far as local PD assistance, I follow the same pattern with them. I show respect for thier town and authority. This is a princapal part of gaining what I need. If it means I grease a few wheels along the way, so be it.The end result now is I can travel with her in several U.S. cities and rely on my local contacts. As it pretains to the article, I wish she could afford that kind of protection detail. That would be heaven. Until then I will work for my client, like we all do, with the dollars available and to the best of my knowledge. So thanks for the article and all the comments. It is always good to read others ways and techniques.
Certainly no offense or disrespect intended. As we all know, there are many, many ways to skin an EP Advance.
Having been on both sides of the governmental/private sector fence, with a fair amount of operational experience in NYC, I was merely stating my observation/experience in regard to the reality of private sector operations in that fair city.
Although it would be VERY nice to have the time and resources described in the article, in reality most private sector organizations/clients are unwilling to fund to that level.
I sincerely wish it was otherwise and that adequate funding, personnel, resources were ALWAYS available to perform our protective functions as they should properly be done. Unfortunately, increases in said funding, personnel, resources typically come AFTER an incident has prompted said increases, not before.
RESPONSE TO BEATLE
want to thank you Beatle for your compliment concerning the ADVANCE article. I can tell you understood the purpose and essence of the article. Both you and I Band are correct in your statements regarding small private sector operators unable to fund fully functional, by the book executive protection details. However, you got the message I was trying to impart that you should make every effort to do it according to the basic tenets we have all come to know as the principles of protection. Although it may not be possible to do everything the Secret Service does during their details, there are federal agencies whose security folks protect their Secretaries (i.e. Secretary of Commerce; Housing and Urban Development) because they don’t get the funding they need. However, they try to acquire a follow car with enough agents to conduct a professional protection detail. The agents always do a threat assessment on each location they visit (in fact they have a file on each major city in the US with LEO points of contacts; hotels; restaurants; etc. They constantly update those so they can contact the right folks when doing a threat assessment and advance). The advance is basic with all agencies protecting their organization’s leadership. And they generally have a two vehicle motorcade, with the advance agent normally diplomatically wheeling and dealing his or her way into the heart of a local LE official who will provide a marked police vehicle. So, you got my message: Try to do the best advance you can do, and in terms of the protective detail, make every effort to adhere to the basic tenets of VIP protection.
RESPONSE TO I-BAND:
First, I want to thank you for you input and desire to open the door for
further discussion regarding advancing protective details. Secondly,
let me say that I have never plagiarized anything I have written in my
life. In fact, in this particular case, every word that appears in the
article comes directly from my mind to the keyboard; VIP protection
tactics naturally come to mind, whether it be advancing a detail,
protective driving techniques, threat assessments, protection
choreography, emergency medical triage actions, etc.
In terms of your contention that conducting a protective service detail
for a government official or foreign dignitary is quite different from
providing security for a CEO, you are correct. However, why as a
private sector executive protection specialist would you not effectively
liaison with local law enforcement while conducting an advance?
Additionally, why would you not make every effort to acquire the
appropriate amount of agent manpower as you feel is needed? I am
certain that if you diplomatically approached a local NYC precinct
commander (and I am a native New Yorker), related that you are the
advance agent for a private sector principal who will be visiting his
city to attend a conference, this official will make every effort to
assist you. No, you may not get a motorcycle escort for your motorcade
(even in the private sector you should have at least two vehicles during
your PSO), but he may post a marked unit at the hotel when your man or
woman arrives, and he may even give you a detective for the initial
phases of your advance. Whether these things occur depends upon how you
approach that commander.
As I stated earlier, government and private sector personal security may
operate in varied environments, and perhaps under different constraints,
especially in terms of funding. However, when it comes to the basic
tenets and principals of VIP protection, you should strive to hit the
mark every time; get the extra bodies, provide a comprehensive advance,
have up to date communications, and yes, acquire funding for a follow
car and agents to fill it. Be as tactful and diplomatic as possible
when conducting your advance and when you are negotiating your contract
for the security of this principal. You will be surprised that more
doors will open and you will have more offers to assist your protective
In any case, thanks for the input and I appreciate your effort to open
the discussion further!
That’s good info. The author has obviously BTDT.
Although most details won’t have the numbers to operate exactly like that, it’s always good to learn the gold standard. This way you know what you should be aspiring to. Also, if the threat level goes up and your detail is suddenly augmented, you’ll know how to best utilize those “extra” bodies.
It’s also good to learn what I call “The Hasty Advance”, because you may have to compress all of that Advance Work into 30 minutes of info gathering and dissemination prior to the arrival of the motorcade. In the private sector, you’ll be doing that a lot more often than you’ll be doing the “Full Court Press” described in the article.
Again- good stuff.
Classic governmental Advance protocols. Reads like it was plagiarized from an alphabet agency training manual.
However, the abundant time available to conduct the Advance (equal to the trip duration!) and the considerable personnel assets described, are rarely available in the private sector.
Unless the protectee is highly recognizable and/or highly controversial, not too many private/corporate details operating in NYC are doing it in multi-vehicle motorcades, much less one with a follow containing a Shift Leader and two additional Agents. And even fewer are doing it with local LE support.
You’re doing well to have a third Agent on the detail, and luck is really on your side if you can convince the NYPD Traffic cops to leave you alone!
A “stash vehicle? Sure, it would be nice, but unless it has a dedicated Agent/driver (with some tin), where ya gonna park it in mid-town?
I am not saying it wouldn’t be great to operate in this manner in the private sector, and the description of gaining info/intel (medical facilities, routes, venue interiors, liaison POCs) is certainly good advice. But unless the protective detail has the juice and the final say on budget/staffing, this scenario isn’t too likely.
Just my cent and a half opinion, which is worth about that much!
Obviously, we have a typo here; however, when doing an advance, you are acting as an ambassador for your principal, agency you work for, whether it be government or private sector, and yourself. You want to ensure that the next time you deal with that entity, even a rental car manager, he treats you with utmost respect and tries his best to meet your needs. I have seen agents, especially brand new federal protective service personnel go up to restaurant owners, or even local law enforcement, and demand that these individuals cooperate. All I can tell you is that may work one time as you may scare the person into doing what you ask, but you will never get support from that restaurant or that local PD in the future should you need their assistance. There is only time I can think of when an advance agent may need to “make demands” so to speak. Let’s say you are standing outside a site which the principal will be visiting and you get hit on the radio by the shift leader that his motorcade is 10 minutes out. Now, you have worked hard to ensure everything WILL GO AS PLANNED and suddenly a cab pulls up adjacent to the drop off site (happens in NYC all the time!). This is when you hopefully have been diplomatic with the local police and they have assigned a detective to work with you througout the principal’s visit. In this case, the officer will simply walk up to the cab driver and tell him he is in a restricted zone. I guarantee that the cabbie will move on. If you have dropped the ball on this and have not secured this as at least restricted parking, you have to think outside of the box; go up to the cab driver (he will see you are wearing a lapel pin and see your ear piece) flash whatever ID your agency has provided in his face and tell him he must move, NOW! I guess that is why they call it an advance, if you cover all the bases ahead of time, you won’t run into problems during the detail. I hope this answers your question.
I’ve read all the books on Executive Protection and advance work. This is the most practical and efficient way of conducting an advance I’ve seen.
WHY does Mr. DeVino suggest a thank you letter be written to the car rental company?
ADVANCE work is key in this business!