Bodyguard Careers is pleased to present the first in a 3-Part Series titled “Training to Task” by our regular contributor Rick Colliver. It is our hope that you find this article beneficial in your pursuit of education for the EPS field. Please visit again next Monday for Part two, and thank you Rick for offering your expertise in this area to our readers.
Rick Colliver is the program developer and lead instructor in the Principal Protection program at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy and is an adjunct instructor in protective operations in several police, military and academic organizations. He is also the global security director for a multi-national corporation with operations in 24 time zones, and has managed protection details in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas.
Training to Task
“Elements to Consider in Choosing the Right School”
R. E. “Rick” Colliver
There are all kinds of lawyers, but if you’ve just been involved in a work-related shooting, you wouldn’t choose one who specialized in corporate tax. Similarly, guys my age don’t go to pediatricians when they need their cholesterol medicine renewed. So; which is the best protection school for you?
If we can agree that all protection clients are different, then we can begin to understand why some schools might prepare a new protection specialist for their career path, better than others. Through the years we noticed that the individuals who signed up for our classes, generally came from the law enforcement or military ranks. However, when asked about their career aspirations, they often said they wanted to land assignments in corporate security or the entertainment industry.
Almost surprisingly, I once taught an executive protection class for a strictly corporate security audience, and when asked the same question, several of the younger attendees exclaimed that they were preparing themselves for a career in federal law enforcement; like the Secret Service, DSS and US Marshals. From these brief conversations and analyses sprang two important concepts: 1) The grass always appears greener on the other side, and 2) the cookie-cutter skill-sets being taught in civilian training schools throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s were not always appropriate for everyone.
In the spring of 2001, the University of Findlay was given federal funding to identify and develop counter-terrorism courses to be presented to private and public sector clientele. This unit was called the Center for Terrorism Preparedness (CTP) and was one of six such Bio-Terrorism Preparedness sites throughout the country (http://seem.findlay.edu/). Note that this initiative was undertaken well in advance of the attacks of September 11 and was based on current global intelligence estimates combined with an analysis of emerging training needs in US-based public safety response units. It was not a knee-jerk reaction to the attacks.
The Center Director organized a team comprised of law enforcement, military and corporate security training veterans who were cross-trained in protective operations under both public and private sector programs, and had managed protection details in a variety of events with protectees ranging from recognized entertainers up to and including sitting and former Presidents (POTUS).
Our training committee began to study key elements of protective services and evaluate protection as a regular business process. We immediately recognized that career paths and assignments could be quickly filtered at two different levels, based upon the type of protective services the graduating student would be expected to provide.
Level I filter: Public Sector vs Private Sector
Level II filter: Permanent Protectees vs Itinerant Protectees
On one level, we found that students who enter protection training generally see themselves either in public sector assignments (local/state/federal law enforcement or military PSD’s) or private roles such as corporate security or celebrity protection. We also found that only a minority of students would eventually find themselves on permanent details; that is, where Principal protection is their full-time job.
The majority of students would be assigned to itinerant (temporary) details, wherein they would be expected to provide protection in support of special events or spontaneous threat information (against witnesses, domestic or workplace violence victims etc). Often, these graduates would work with other protection teams for specific events and then return to more traditional law enforcement or security duties (such as working with a Presidential candidate passing through town for an afternoon) after their detail concluded.
One of the benefits of our diverse team was that while we had all worked together on previous protection details, we brought a wide variety of training, education and experience to the table. One of our team members was a chief training officer for a police department and also a LTC in the US Army Special Forces, who had his Masters degree in adult education. A second was a career police officer (with permanent detail experience) who was also a graduate of both ESI and EPI, arguably the oldest and most respected schools in the business.
A third member operated a successful threat assessment business for more than twenty years, and the fourth had received training from the US Secret Service and several private sector programs, and was a security director with a publicly traded (NYSE) company. We all had undergraduate degrees and had completed some Masters-level coursework (Since the program’s inception we have continued to add qualified experts to the instructor cadre to ensure that the program stays fresh and in line with internationally recognized training needs).
Over the next three months, we took a look at the curricula and training methodologies from five government agencies and six private sector training programs and from this were able to expand our filters (Table 1) to better assess training requirements. In simple terms, we found that government protection programs were teaching us how to protect government protectees and private sector programs were teaching us how to protect civilians.
Are the skills interchangeable? Sure, much of the time. However, we also examined how much and what type of training was being offered under the topic of “Executive Protection” and found it was all over the board. The Secret Service, FLETC and military teams were spending as many as sixteen weeks training their personnel, prior to being assigned to details and then requiring mandated in-service training at regular intervals.
On the other hand, we found that some private EP schools were conducting two and three day courses and ether issuing certificates of completion, or urging students to take their week-long continuations#. Some schools were operated by well-trained former USSS and DSS agents, but one school we found was being operated by a travel agent. Then we found that some of the highest profile protectees in the entertainment business were being guarded by individuals who had received “no training”, and were working as “un-vetted” volunteers.
After kicking this data around we were able to produce a more detailed table that allowed us to better evaluate client needs and build protection training programs around those specific needs (Table 2); because, as I mentioned earlier, “all clients are different”. Thus, all protection programs need to be different. Not only because the client has to accept protection as a part of their life, but also because you should never let an adversary read a book somewhere that allows him or her to compromise your security. If you employ a “one-size-fits-all” approach to protection, your program will be easier to defeat.