In the past few years Hollywood media outlets have played a negative role in the portraying of today’s Executive protection specialists that have created popular misconceptions about both the EP industry and the job itself. Action packed movies where “bodyguards” are able to identify the threats and then immediately neutralize the bad guy with gun blazing deadly force is nothing more than a myth.
The true reality is that specific threats, both real and perceived by the client are in many cases difficult to fully pinpoint. In the real world, an Executive Protection Specialist has no legal right to actively “engage” a threat with either reasonable force or deadly force unless an attacker has made or attempted to attack the principal or the protection specialist and or team.
The misconception is that a “Bodyguard” always uses aggressive force to solve the problem. This is completely false, any Executive protection Specialist worth his or her salt, will tell you that not making contact or using force is the earmark of a successfully EP operation. Most EP specialists will tell you that a mission has gone to plan if no contact was made.
It is important to remember, you are not being paid to be the “swift hand of justice and death”, you are being paid to be a problem solver and in many case’s a peacemaker. Your number one goal is ensure that your principal is kept safe and that you live to work and prosper for another day.
My close friend and business associate Georges Tabet relayed a story to me from his time working as a High Threat Protection Specialist in Iraq. Georges had explained that his team had brought members of the CPA (Coalition Provincial Authority) to a local village in the heart of the Sunni triangle to meet with a local sheik to discuss a proposed building project.
The principal was inside of a two story building and the 12 man team had split up with half of the team inside during the meeting and the rest of the team positioned around the vehicles and building. The meeting had been going on for close to an hour when a large group of people started to gather around the team’s location. The group of Iraqi civilians soon started to yell and chant anti American slogans and soon started to throw rocks and pieces of rebar at the team.
Two of the team members were hit in the arms and legs and the situation was quickly spiraling out of control, granted the team could have used some type of force against the group, but they chose not to and instead got the Iraqi translator attached to the team to get on a bull horn that was carried with the vehicles and explained to the protesters that the team was on location to help in the building of a new school and hospital.
With-in 20 minutes of the broadcast the situation had calmed back down and the team was able to clear the venue without further incident.
In truth the Executive Protection Specialist, for the most part is a rather repetitive duty position where attention to detail is critical.
Unlike the glamour of the movies the Executive Protection Specialist is constantly planning for continuous operations with the client, as well as conducting advanced work that includes but is not limited to liaison duty with law enforcement and medical agencies, conducting building and vehicle searches and preparing route analysis cards and threat assessments.
Remember, the use of any force should always be the last and final option. Believing in Hollywood fairytales on how “bodyguards” operate will get you and your client killed in a New York minute.