When was the last time the Secret Service killed a bad guy with a gun in the last 20 years?

The reason why there has not been an instance of a Secret Service agent killing an assailant is found in their preventive and proactive methods. In the protection industry, if you get to the point where you have to use a gun, you have essentially failed. There is something that you did wrong by creating the situation yourself where you have to be put in a use of force or deadly force situation. An executive protection agent should never be forced into a reactive mode. Instead, everything should be focused on preventing these incidents in the first place. The reality of being reactive is that you did not do all the right things.

Advance Work in Executive Protection Services

This all boils down to advance work and choreographing every move – every time the car’s door is opened, minimizing the space between the car and the door of the building, having driving routes planned, and which entrance of a building is going to be used. All of this work is done beforehand, and every single detail is planned out and known to the protection team. There is nothing left to chance or the last moment.

When protective advances are being carried out, the security detail will take photos and videos, and any other needed resources will be collected. And then they put together the plan, which is shared among the protection unit, and they execute the plan exactly as it is set out on a day by day or week by week basis.

Take the President’s recent trip to Ireland as an example. The Secret Service was most likely over in Ireland at least a month in advance, carrying out the advances for this trip. That is how they put  a team in Ireland beforehand to ensure that all security plans were done to the required level and nothing was left to chance.

In addition, the protection team will look at the intelligence and the threats that might emerge from that intelligence. So if the President is going to visit Los Angeles, they will look to see if there are any bad guys that are in the city who are on social media clearly making statements against the President that are threatening or menacing, or even saying they will attack him. 

Integration of  Protective Intelligence and Advances

Intelligence and advances are a huge part of private protection. While law enforcement will also carry out some advances and look at intelligence, typically this is narrow in scope and more focused on potential protests, civil unrest, or riots that they know groups are planning. But when it is specifically about protecting someone, additional things need to be taken into consideration. For example, if a client needs to be driven through downtown Los Angeles, their protection team needs to be aware of protests or demonstrations that are taking place so that they can reroute the travel plan and not go into any dangerous areas.

With any type of protection, if a bad guy is in a building where the client is going to be taken, then that building will simply not be entered. It does not matter if there are ten agents and one bad guy, if a direct threat is present, it must be avoided and the client kept completely away from a clear and present danger.

The Secret Service and private protection agents avoid bad guys like the plague. If they know that there are dangerous individuals and criminals there, then that area is not entered because they do not want to engage in a use of force or deadly force incident. 

A gun is a tool that protection agents use, but in many ways, it is the most useless tool that skilled agents possess. It is a tool that agents always have and are highly trained to use and be qualified with, but the ultimate goal is that, in a long career, you never have to actually fire the weapon. 

Sometimes in the protection world, people overemphasize the need and importance of firearms and constantly show off their weapons or talk about practicing at the firing range. The goal should actually be thorough intelligence gathering, advance work, and putting together choreographed plans for the client that keep them far away from all harm.

When you look back at the history of the Secret Service, though, it is clear that they are doing everything right by not having to fire their gun or use deadly force.

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WPG is a full-service international security firm that specializes in Executive Protection. Our philosophy and techniques are modeled after the United States Secret Service method of providing proactive and preventative protection. WPG has worked with some of the most high profile individuals in the world.

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