Let’s answer the first part of the title: what is Executive Protection? Executive protection (EP), also referred to as “close protection,” is the security and risk mitigation measures taken for individuals who may be exposed to an increased risk associated with their employment, VIP status, net worth, political or social affiliations, or geographic location.
People are most familiar with the Secret Service and its application of EP. The Secret Service model is robust and very overt in its presentation; there is no missing it. For a President of the United States or any world leader, this is what is expected and needed based on the threat and potential ramifications of something happening. But what about those who aren’t world leaders? Is there a need for a “protector” and how will it look compared to the President’s security? Isn’t it only for those who are famous or well off? To answer these questions, we will move to the “why” of our title.
So why would someone need EP? Ultimately, the reason for EP is to mitigate a threat against the individual. There are many different types of threats that may warrant protection, such as the threat of death, serious injury, stalking, kidnapping, or assault. The US Marshals Service provides protection to federal judges and most people would intuitively understand that judges are at a higher risk and require protection. But did you know that the US Marshals also provide protection for individuals accused of committing serious crimes while they await trial, if they are under threat? The judge and the criminal are opposite ends of the spectrum, but both share a common denominator: a high threat level and potential for harm. Threats can manifest in many ways, under many situations, for many different types of people.
The why of what was just described now leads us to who may need EP. There is no single profile of someone who may need EP; it can apply to anyone who is at a raised threat level or risk of harm. The spectrum of people who may seek EP has expanded from CEOs and federal politicians to the local, community level over the last several years. This is in part due to unrest in many communities, the “spontaneous” actions of activist groups targeting establishments or individuals, and the controversial topics being decided at the local level. Fifteen years ago a local school board meeting would have flown under the radar, but now even local events that discuss controversial topics are being live streamed, recorded, and scrutinized by a much wider audience. The local mayor, school board member, city councilwoman, or religious leader now may have a need for EP.
Another area in which EP has grown is in response to domestic abuse. Spouses who have been threated, children who are being withheld from a parent, and sometimes case workers in volatile situations are vulnerable to harm by an abuser and may require EP. The field of who needs protection has dramatically expanded.
The final question we need to answer is when does someone need EP? EP might be best suited for a specific event, a few days, or 24/7 long-term protection; the duration and timing should be dictated by both the threat and the circumstances of potential harm. Best practice is to have a threat assessment done first to determine what degree of risk and threat is involved. For example, if a local official is participating in a public meeting that is expected to be emotionally charged, then it may be necessary to engage with a professional security service who can arrange for EP services during the event. Depending on the findings of the threat assessment, it may also be prudent for the EP coverage to include transportation to and from the event, as well as protection at the official’s residence for a few days following the event. If you allow the professionals the opportunity to assess the situation and come up with a strategic plan, the when will answer itself.
One final note: trust your instincts and intuition. If the hairs on the back of neck are standing up, if your “gut” tells you something, listen. It may mean you decide to not attend a particular event, change your plans, or utilize the services of an EP agent. Trust your instincts!
To learn more visit Executive Security Service.