Many people believe that executive protection just means having an agent on the ground and staying close to the client at all times. This is an incredibly simplified and inaccurate picture of VIP security and everything that it entails. In reality, a world-class executive protection company will undergo extensive assessments at the beginning of taking on a client and throughout the entirety of the contract.
It is essential for the protection detail to not only understand the needs of the client and how they might be targeted, but also the mindset of the bad guys who are doing the targeting. This is where psychology is essential. Executive protection agents are much more than just muscle who keep dangers away; they need to preempt risks and understand not only who could be targeting the client but also why.
Mindset and Motivation
When it comes to executive protection, it is important that the team has a good understanding of what could be motivating bad guys. This can be all sorts of things, such as stalkers who are delusional and believe they have a personal relationship with the client, fraudsters who want to take advantage of the client and steal from them, and even false friends who want to use the client for fame and could potentially put them in dangerous situations for their own gain.
All of these people will be within different circles of familiarity and closeness with the client, and the executive protection team will naturally address each threat with different methods. However, every single time, they will be examining what is motivating the individual and looking for ways to prevent the criminal or dangerous activity from taking place.
By understanding the mindset and motivations of the bad guy, the agents can appear to understand where he is coming from and show empathy or concern. This is a useful tactic when working to dissuade the bad guy from carrying out his intention to cause harm or pursue the client. It is also a subtle, controlled, proactive response to a threat that minimizes risk or public attention.
Threat Assessment and Risk Mitigation
When first working with a client, it is imperative that the executive protection team carry out a thorough threat assessment. This will encompass every aspect of the client’s life, such as who they are surrounded by and how they live their life. By figuring out where gaps in security might exist or where active risks exist, the security detail can take the necessary steps to plan ahead and remove the risks or threats to the client.
Risk mitigation can come in a variety of forms because it is very dependent on the lifestyle and types of risks present. For instance, if a celebrity is constantly posting on social media while having an active and dangerous stalker, the protection team will make sure that the celebrity stops posting sensitive information, such as live locations or photos of their private residence.
Situational Awareness and Staying Proactive
One thing that is key to every successful protection detail is situational awareness. By carrying out advances, the team understands exactly where the client is going, how they are getting there, and will have emergency exit routes planned in case a threat or dangerous situation emerges. It is essential for the team to be aware of the layout of any building and to keep track of who is in the building and what is happening at all times. This ensures that the client is removed the second something suspicious occurs, without the need for violent or aggressive intervention.
Equally, a good protection team will have a proactive and preventative approach to security and protection. There is nothing worse than being unprepared and reactive, because this can lead to mistakes being made. Instead, the team should always plan ahead, carry out assessments and advances, and have thousands of hours of training that leads to informed, choreographed responses to dangers.
Tailored Approach for VIP Security
No two clients will have the same protection needs. This means that there is no cookie cutter approach to a protection detail or plan. Instead, the initial security assessment is crucial, as it will inform the team of exactly what the client needs and how these needs can be met as effectively and safely as possible.
At the end of the day, the client’s safety is always the first priority. It is not enough for the team to be trained just in using weapons and gathering intelligence; they also need to be astute with psychology and understand where threats might be coming from and why. This allows the team to address risks holistically, taking in the entire situation and planning ahead at all times.