Our Day is routine, mundane and then it’s not…
I recently had a conversation with a well-respected associate who has worked in the executive protection industry in what I would call a well sought-after position for some fifteen years. In our discussion we were relating stories of times we have had to convince our principals to take the very basic precautions during routine travel. More often than not the principal would go along their business without incident and periodically our case would be made, and the precautions recommended would be qualified through common incidents that would have otherwise caused issues for the principal.
Our conversation went on to times we have been asked “will you take a bullet for someone”, yes, a favorite amongst my peers in the personal protection industry and one that we all just love to answer… not so much. I found that we both give the same explanation in answering this question, it is our goal to keep the principal from harm and in turn keep ourselves from harm’s way. I mean let’s think about this logically, if we trained and practiced our trade to ultimately conclude our career in being taken out by some attacker’s bullet what would our shelf life be? Aside from my wife’s disappointment of voiding our matrimonial agreement for someone she likely doesn’t even know; this pathway would provide a very short sustained livelihood and even if the assault was survived it would likely not be a good marketing point for future work!
So yes, we do use avoidance of threats and mitigation of vulnerably to protect our principals. In today’s times we often do this through planning and intelligence resources, in short, we make every attempt to control the atmosphere around us. This conversation all led me to consciously think about those times when we cannot control the world around us. It made me think, am I ready? Is my team ready? That’s what brings me to this recent story of two brothers who are alleged to have gone on a shooting spree in a stolen vehicle. They randomly shot at otherwise innocent people who were not doing nothing more than sitting in or driving their vehicle in an area that crossed paths with these two suspect criminals.
The “Random Action” is what we cannot control. By its own definition the random act or action, cannot be contemplated. This is what we train for, this is what we need hardened skills for, surviving the random attack. This is no different than anyone else in the world and collates with the contemporary issue of the active shooter, or otherwise known as a “random act” of violence. What you do in those few seconds of reaction will dictate if you will maintain your continuity of business, meaning you living.
Don’t misunderstand me, we do everything within our tool box to avoid any attack and reduce our risk and yes most, if not, all attacks are not as random as one would think but as perfect as we think we are we cannot predict everything that will happen within our day. Like many other companies we are taking steps every day to improve our identification of threats. PGI has improved our abilities through technology and learning in many ways, even to the point of now teaching our practitioners how to recognize aggressive behavior before the would-be aggressor becomes a threat to our principal or ourselves.
So, what can we do, how can we prepare for the random act if we do not know it is coming? We need to be prepared (physically and mentally trained), mobile, flexible, we need to be at the ready. Just yesterday I was driving with my wife and I calculated no less than five people who were involved in near misses while driving their cars and some did end up in a collision. They were either distracted by some technical device in their hand or were caught up in their own thoughts… am going to be late for my appointment, did I turn off the coffee maker, what are we going to have for dinner tonight… in any case they were not at the ready.
If you have ever sat in a class where I have provided instruction you have likely heard me say, People, Places, the Things they Do, Why and When they Do them. I got that statement from a N.Y.P.D. Blue episode where one of the actors was teaching his son how to handle his new assigned role as a rookie foot patrol officer. This is what we need to know about our surroundings, we need to establish the norm for what is happening. If we are new to the surroundings, we need to rapidly identify what’s happening and either qualify the event as a threat or discount or delete the action as normal. First, we must train ourselves. We need to train our minds and then we need to train each reaction we will have to any action we encounter.
I am not going to recommend any specific protective practitioners’ course or safety course for individuals, but I will offer you some free do-it-yourself training. Sit in the park or some other populated public location and watch the people around you, what are they doing, what are their behaviors telling you? Now roleplay what your reaction will be to the actions you witness. Will you react at all, or will you discount or delete the action without response? As for the rest of it, study available course offerings in the protection industry, if you are working within the security industry or what personal safety courses are available if you are looking to better protect yourself and your family. In either case, be sure the training is relevant, and it will teach you to survive.
Your end goal is time and distance. You want to identify a threat as early as possible, regardless if this is three months or three seconds have a plan to remove yourself from the actionable space of the threat (distance), avoid the threat or remove the threat. Finally, remember, it is information that allows the would-be attacker the advantage, they know their intent and plan of action, so it is our job to even the playing ground by identifying the threat and dealing with the threat accordingly.
I hope this information is helpful in some way to you, whether it is old hat or fresh information, I hope the learning of this information is a reminder that takes you from complacency and allows you to survive.
Bill Peeler is the founder of Peeler Group International.