Category Archives: Event Security

The Alpha Male Trait in Executive Protection

Playing Well With Others

by Elijah Shaw

The 2011 Grammy Awards is a very prestigious event.  Every A-List celebrity you can think of in the entertainment industry; musicians, actors, models, but more importantly decision makers, shot callers and handlers are in attendance.  For the Security Professional operating in the celebrity arena, it’s the equivalent of your team going to the super bowl – It likely took hard work to get there, it raises your profile, but the stakes are dramatically higher.  In addition there’s the added pressure that, as opposed to working one on one, with your Principal you are now moving your client in an environment where he or she may not be the most famous person in the room.  Things may take a little longer to happen, there are additional security procedures that apply to everyone and the undivided attention and assistance you once got from support staff is now splintered.  In short your VIP is now one Very Important Person amongst many.

The problem I see too many in our industry make when faced with this situation is that instead of adapting, we try and throw their weight around.   We become belligerent to the PA’s (personal assistants) who are in charge with navigating us around the event.  We become acrimonious with law enforcement that has been given strict orders that in a place where “everybody is somebody “ all need to submit to security screening. Most telling of all, we sometimes treat our counterparts working close protection as adversaries as opposed to allies.

It’s that last point that I’ve found so fascinating in my many years in the industry.  While I fully acknowledge that a contributing factor to success as a bodyguard is the “Alpha Male” Personality, I’ve never understood why when you put more than 3 of us in a room who are not on a detail together you can see territorial lines being drawn almost as clearly as if they were written with crayon.

Now don’t get me wrong there are definite exceptions to this rule (I try hard to consider myself one of them).  There are some great guys and gals in the industry that every time I see them it’s an opportunity to combine intel and share resources.  When on an event similar in scope to the Grammy’s we provide introductions to key staff and alert each other to any security or logistical problems.  But more often than not, I see agents eyeing each other with suspicion and barley veiled contempt.  You can almost hear their thoughts out loud:

“How did this guy get that client? I’m so much better than he is.”

“That’s not how you escort the Principal, diamond formations always work better than box.”

“This guy is standing too close to my client’s door, is he trying to steal my client”?

I know this situation is not unique to the Celebrity Protection market.  My associates that operate in some of the more hostile areas of the world tell me about protection teams sizing each other up all the time.  Of course the stakes are different when you’re in Iraq or Papa New Guinea.  The point I’m trying to make is: Think how much could be accomplished if  simply we adjusted our mindset that other EP Agents and event staff were all working for the same goal – The safeguarding of the individuals inside that collective circle of protection.    Sometimes those rings will overlap and when they do, I’ll look at others providing services not as nuisances but as brothers (or sisters) at arms dealing with their own set of challenges.  I believe that an attitude like this will pay back in dividends in the long run.

Read the full story in The Circuit – The Magazine for Bodyguards by ordering HERE.

Caption This IV

Some of you might remember the rather interesting “challenges” I had while taking a client to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup.  Well i’ve been saving this edition of CAPTION THIS for just the right time, as it summed up some (but not all) of the security present during the event.

Independent of that, I find the image itself pretty funny, so try your hand and add your witty caption for this photo in the comments section below.

Previously:  Caption This pt. 1

Previously:  Caption This pt. 2

Previously:  Caption This pt. 3

World Cup Security Breakdowns

Police crime intelligence is probing the possibility that one or more security companies that lost out on the bid to provide protection services to the World Cup may have instigated protest by the security officers themselves leaving several stadiums severely understaffed in this vital area as they walked out on the job.   The strikes, which prompted the dismissal of the workers, led to the police taking over the entire security operation at Soccer City and Ellis Park in Johannesburg, Green Point stadium in Cape Town and Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban.

I really hope this is not the case, but sadly there has certainly been a break down out here.  If this is another case of corporations putting the dollar over safety, this really should be investigated.   ~ES

Read the story HERE.


Security and Safety at The World Cup

South Africa Times Reports:  South African intelligence services have been accused of being slow to react to warnings of terror threats to the 2010 World Cup

The US Congress counter-terror caucus was briefed on threats to the tournament.  Ronald Sandee, director of the NEFA Foundation, warned the US Congress that:

  • Pakistani and Somali militants are running terror training camps in northern Mozambique;
  • Trainees from these camps may have crossed into South Africa to join or form cells planning World Cup attacks;
  • Surveillance and strike teams planning attacks are well established in South Africa. Terror groups involved include al-Qaeda and their Somalian allies, al-Shahaab
  • Simultaneous and random attacks are being planned during the World Cup

On Wednesday, the National Joint Operational Centre was activated at an undisclosed military base in Pretoria. It is co-coordinating the deployment of all South African security and intelligence structures to ensure a safe World Cup, including 24-hour protection of teams and officials.

According to two insiders, a watch-list of 40 terror suspects has been drawn up.  Police have neither confirmed nor denied the arrest or watch-list.

For the full story:  Click HERE.

It’s tough finding the balance between safety & security along with access & convenience at a world sporting event such as the World Cup.  Lot’s of moving parts, lots of players.   ~ES

Pope Attack Raises Security Concerns

The Vatican will review security procedures after a woman jumped a barrier and rushed at Pope Benedict XVI for the second time in two years, this time managing to knock him down before being pulled away by guards, the Vatican spokesman said Friday.

Benedict, 82, wasn’t hurt and delivered his traditional Christmas Daygreetings in 65 languages from the loggia overlooking St. Peter’s Square. While a bit unsteady at first, he also delivered a short speech about the world’s trouble spots without problem.

The incident in St. Peter’s Basilica raised fresh questions about security for the pontiff, however, after officials said the woman involved had jumped the barrier at the 2008 Midnight Mass in a failed bid to get to the pope. She even wore the same red-hooded sweat shirt.

For the full story, click HERE.

Much like when the United States Secret Services has a breach you can believe there will be some finger pointing and people held accountable.  In the end, I think this incident will result in some altered security changes for the Popes movements among crowds, much like the introduction of the Popemobile after 1981.

Footage of the attack and security response.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpDffQJjm9c[/youtube]

Book Alleges Secret Service Cannot Protect Obama

 

The President on the steps of the Washington Monument
The President on the steps of the Washington Monument

“The U.S. Secret Service has cut corners in ways that may have jeopardized the safety of President Obama, according to a new book by a veteran Washington journalist and author, Ron Kessler.  The book, “In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect,” details instances of “laxness in how they protect” Obama.

Wow.  Powerful allegations.  I’ll reserve passing any judgement until I read the entire book myself.  However, I will say that having had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Obama on multiple occasions (from when he was a rising star Senator, to his current role as Commander in Chief) and liaising with his staff, the agents entrusted with his safety have always appeared attentive and mission-focused.    I did have some concerns during my time the inauguration– the sheer size and magnitude could have been nothing but overwhelming –but was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to bring them up to key parties.  

One thing I will say is that the men and women of the United States Secret Service have a very demanding job and one that allows zero margin for error. Lopsided or not, a book like this will surely light a fire that will make some take a closer look at any deficiencies for the greater good.  

The book is due on shelves August 4th. 

At the Presidential Inauguration
At the Presidential Inauguration

The Inauguration and ICON

ICON CEO Ellijah Shaw working at the 2009 Presidental Inauguration

People often come up to me and say “Wow, your job must be so cool”…I often downplay that because so much goes on behind the scenes that anything “cool” is often leveled out by long hours, stressful and potentially dangerous situations and sometimes just flat-out boredom. However there are times like the last few days where I had the distinct honor of being able to apply my craft in direct association with the 2009 Presidential Inauguration.

And while there was the stress, long hours and the hurry-up-and-wait that accompanies events of a vast magnitude. I will go on record and say that being a part of that experience was one of the highlights of my professional career.

AND YES, IT WAS DAMN COOL.

ICON Inauguration Security Services

Inauguration Security Website - DNC Security.com

Yep, Back at it again…

The Teams are on the ground and moving around.

For celebrities, private individuals and corporate executives attending functions associated with the 2009 Presidential Inauguration, ICON can provide you with premium security services.

For more information visit www.DNCSecurity.com or contact 651-695-8778.

(One day i’ll have to share with my Blog readers how I almost got the Obama account before he hit the stratosphere –and the Secret Service.)

Around the World in 30 Days

From China to the DNC to the RNC to the NFL Kick-off to LA to the Obama/McCain Service Forum in NYC.  It’s been a crazy 30 days.  Thanks to everyone at ICON that kept the plates spinning to make the assignments a success, and keeping all the clients happy. 

Now back to the moutain of paperwork that’s accumulated.  uggh.</p

Guarding The Olympic Stars

“Next month, a delegation of nearly 1,200 U.S. athletes, coaches and support staff will make their way to Beijing, China, for the Olympics games. Behind the scenes, United States Olympic Committee Chief Security Officer Larry Buendorf will be keeping a close eye on the games, making sure that the four years he’s spent making security preparations with local authorities keep the Olympians and their handlers safe.”

Read the full profile at SecurityInfoWatch.com.

~ Mr. Buendorf assisted with foiling an attempt on President Gerarld Ford, moving in front of the then President and his attacker with a gun.