Misperceptions of Personal Protection
When describing what we do in the protection of people, the first hurdle we often have to overcome is the perception that has been created by outside influences. Just yesterday, I found myself in a conversation where a potential client was being discussed and I was told that said client did not like “all that stuff” because they wanted to be as normal as possible. They explained to me that local police officers are often used for appearances during philanthropic pursuits of the client. So what does this tell us? It tells me that public perception is limited to the physical presence of protection personnel and that there is an obvious disconnect between what we actually do as a professional service company; the issue being that perception isn’t reality.
The service of a personal protection practitioner goes beyond what is observed in the end result of a person being escorted by security personnel. In fact, it goes much deeper than that. Our services may begin days, weeks or months prior and will continue well beyond the actual event or action. When you, the client, are retaining the services of a personal protection practitioner, you are not getting what you paid for, you are getting much more, or at least you should be.
What’s included in protection services?
- At what level are you exposed to risks? – Assessment
- Actual threats, who and why would anyone want to harm you? What could cause you embarrassment? – Intelligence
- What will you be doing and what is in your itinerary? How will you get from point A to point B? What will be needed to assure your success? What will be done if a threat is experienced and how will we avoid or respond to a crisis? – Advance & Contingency Planning
- Where will the resources needed to accomplish our mission be obtained? – Logistical Support
The need to “trust your instincts” is something that we have been told since our early years, some say they have a sixth sense or others will refer to it as a gut feeling. Nevertheless, we need to rely on what we have to make decisions and safely guide us through life. As the Principal Client, you have your protection provider to be your sixth sense and you must know that you may rely upon your protection team or contractor to identify, analyze and react to situations that may affect you. When we ignore our “sixth sense” (protective advisors), we see consequences such as the gentleman who flew his gyrocopter to Washington, D.C. You see, the U.S. Secret Service interviewed this person about a year prior to his infamous flight. Thankfully, the Secret Service is very good at what they do and have investigated and prevented over 438,000 threats against President Obama, many of which were terminated before any action was taken. Nevertheless, this particular incident has exposed vulnerabilities to others intent on doing harm and can be found as an embarrassment.
So back to the prospective client, this in reality could be anyone who rejects or underestimates his or her need for protection services. A broad description for your understanding of this particular prospect is that he is not the wealthiest person in the world and would fall well within the top 1,000 wealthiest people in the United States.
On a broader level, we find many of these individuals may not be easily recognized by most of us walking down the street and may even be marginally known by physical appearance within their local communities. More often than not, they will be recognized by their name or relationship to a popular brand or activity. In recent days, we have all read on headlines, an illustration of exactly what I am talking about; when patrons or workers did not readily recognize Mrs. Clinton visiting a chain restaurant in the mid-west. This example amplifies the point that even with notoriety of name, Mrs. Clinton was not readily recognizable.
So if a woman who just announced her candidacy for President of the United States wasn’t even recognized, why would you be any different? It is not the average person you should concern yourself with; however, it is the person who wishes to harm you that will know you and your activities even better than your most trusted friend.
When you do not know what true protective services provide or how to recognize their value, you consequently increase your vulnerability and exposure to risks. Having the mindset that you may rely on local law enforcement or venue security to look after you is a rather dangerous road to travel. This is not to say that these individuals are to blame or not capable of providing adequate security, but they are entering the task with a blindfold on. I say a blindfold because they do not know anything about you or the risks you face. A recent incident during a news conference (http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/15/us-ecb-policy-dispruption-idUSKBN0N61GE20150415) illustrates the need to have more than just a physical presence.
So does this mean that you require full time protection personnel?
This is another myth as not everyone requires a seven-person security detail twenty-four hours a day, and in fact most do not.
What about the times that you do need physical protection with you? Often, clients traveling or making appearances will require one or more protection agents on a limited basis. It is often uncomfortable thinking of how you are going to have someone over your shoulder all the time or you may even feel embarrassed by the idea. Surreptitious protection has been discovered in the U.S. in recent years, something our firm has been doing for years now. It does not serve our principal clients by making ourselves conspicuous when in most cases our clients are not recognizable themselves.
At the end of the day, it is up to you and the importance you place on your personal protection. Even if you are the most upstanding and caring person in the world, there will always be someone who disagrees with you or who simply wants to gain from your loss. Be proactive and have a frank discussion with a vetted security advisor as to what your needs may be.
Bill Peeler is the President and Founder of Peeler Group International, a risk management company established in 1995. www.peelergroup.com