Nowadays, in the light of the tumultuous world we live in, fueled in part by the phenomenal growth of social media, the role of Executive Protection has quickly expanded beyond the realms of personally safeguarding celebrities and high-profile CEOs. Yet determining when serious consideration should be given to a higher level of protection is no easy feat. After all, executive protection operatives are highly trained in the use of firearms, intelligence gathering, as well as conflict resolution and de-escalation skills. So, when is it time to move from standard guard services (or no services at all) to executive protection?
Michael Mullady, Vice President of Protective Services for Arrow Elite, a service of Arrow Security, discusses four key reasons for considering Executive Protection. He brings more than three decades of law enforcement, military, and high-end private security to the Arrow Elite program, including 22 years with the NYPD.
Reason #1: Personal Wealth
In the past, high-net worth individuals were able to go about their business largely unrecognized and without controversy. That’s not necessarily the case today, primarily because of the internet and, specifically, social media. “High net worth individuals considering executive protection typically come to that realization through a progression in their businesses and an increase in their notoriety,” explains Mullady. For example, a start-up company that experiences rapid growth and expansion into a larger or publicly traded company could be a candidate for Executive Protection. Or the individual becomes the target of direct or implied online threats.
In addition, utilizing an outside security firm alleviates many potential issues for a business owner as opposed to hiring a personal security detail as employees of their company. For one, a reputable outside firm will provide specialized training to their officers and cover them under the firm’s insurance. “There is a risk involved in directly hiring an armed operative to do executive protection,” says Mullady. “Outsourcing absolves the client of certain liabilities.”
Protection programs should also be customized. Meetings with the CEO or business owner and their facilities team are conducted to assess the client’s specific needs. During these discussions, it is determined if protection is necessary solely for the individual or if it needs to be extended to include their family. “This level of security warrants a customized plan every time,” explains Mullady.
Risk assessments conducted prior to providing protection include a complete social media scrub of not only the client’s accounts, but those of his or her family as well. A physical security check of measures currently in place in their home and/or office is also conducted.
Reason #2: Labor Disputes
It’s not uncommon for a company to employ security guards at their main entrance to check employee IDs and sign in visitors. However, if a company becomes involved in an internal or external dispute causing a disruption of service, property damage or violence, executive protection is the logical next step. Aside from physical damage or threats, “verbal threats should always be taken seriously and are often the reason to begin the conversation about employing executive protection,” says Mullady.
Contrary to popular belief, the presence of executive protection in a high-profile labor dispute typically does not escalate the situation. However, “if there is an increasing threat, operatives are trained in de-escalation tactics,” says Mullady. For example, armed guards would be instructed to “blend in” by wearing ordinary street clothes as opposed to recognizable security uniforms. “A business owner’s big luxury SUV can send an antagonistic message,” notes Mullady. “The CEO of one of the biggest retail companies in the country drives in a minivan as opposed to a flashy car. It shows he’s just a regular guy.”
What’s more, by hiring an outside executive protection firm for labor disputes and employee-related situations, executive protection can be used on an as-needed basis, as opposed to having an embedded, or full-time, force.
Reason #3: Travel Security
While personal protection for travel is a common element in an Executive Protection program, there are two key considerations: security vehicles and the presence of a “handler.”
There are a variety of cars that can be supplied as part of the program, including armored cars, plated cars, or vehicles with bulletproof windows.
As for personnel, a handler has a very specific knowledge of the client’s preferences and mannerisms. “The handler assesses the building or venue being visited and how the client will enter, where they will be dropped off, and what entrance to use,” explains Mullady. “They always travel alongside the client too.”
Mullady also notes that more extensive travel arrangements could warrant additional personnel and resources.
#4: Appearance Security
One of the biggest challenges for executive protection is safeguarding a client during a special event.
“It is very important for the Executive Protection personnel to coordinate with the event staff and security staff at a venue,” says Mullady. “A walkthrough or ‘advance’ is done with both security teams.” When necessary, management is present at the ‘advance’ in addition to the operatives.
When it comes to public events, well-trained executive protection operatives avoid crowds whenever possible. “The rule is to never take on a crowd,” explains Mullady. “We have one standing order, and that’s to walk – not run — from a crowd to avoid any agitators.”
When avoiding the crowd is not an option for a client, Mullady says “operatives watch people’s hands. They work the line to block physical contact between the crowd and the client.” The available vehicle is seen as a safe haven for a client, and operatives are trained to get the client in the car and away from the situation quickly and safely.
“Executive protection should always be personalized, customized, and right-sized for a client,” says Mullady. “That sets the stage for the most effective security, no matter where or when.”
Michael Mullady is Vice President of Protective Services for Arrow Elite, a service of Arrow Security. Mike is responsible for providing a wide range of Executive Protection services to clientele nationwide. For more information, contact Mike at [1-877-ELITE79] or go to arrowelitesecurity.com.