Category Archives: Events

The DNC, The RNC & ICON Executive Protection

 

For the past several months i’d been fairly immersed in negotiating, researching, planning, and finally, executing an assignment that was challenging, rewarding, and in many ways, “historic”. Historic because of my participation in both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions at a pivotal time in our nation, but also because I had the opportunity to involve several of the former ICON Academy students in the assignment. For the past 17 days, our agents had the opportunity to interact with all levels of local, state and federal law enforcement, from the United States Secret Service on down. The mix of Politicians, Celebrities, Corporate Higher Up’s and Delegates coexisted with massive crowds, inclimate weather and protesters. The senior Protectors took those with less experience under their wings, and illustrated by words and actions, that every post was an important one, and everyone (including me) got (re)familiar with that EP staple, “Halls & Walls”. In the end, while sore feet, and bags under the eyes were prevalent, the words of thanks and admiration for the work done personally made by the client made it all worth it.

Of course I do not want to make it seem that this was all brand new, in 2008, ICON Services Corporation also played a significant protection role for clients for both the DNC and RNC, and if the positive feedback was any  indication, once again be lacing up the shoes and adding the lapel pin four years from now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Day in the Life of a Executive Protection Agent (Excerpt)

A Day in the Life: 

 Assisting On a Protection Assignment

By Edward Nielsen

You are at home getting some rest, and your cell phone rings. It’s the call you have been waiting for. The Team Leader on a Protective Security Detail is telling you they need last minute assistance to provide security for a well known recording artist who is in town during the weekend of a major sporting event.  What do you do? Well let me tell you what I did. I immediately asked where and when I was needed. His answer to me was “now,” and then proceeded to give me the location where the client will be at a few short hours from then.  I quickly got dressed and proceeded to the location, getting more specific instructions while in transit. I arrived at the site and met with the head of security for the venue to see where the client would enter and where his cordoned off VIP area was located. I then contacted the Detail Leader and let him know contact was made with the venue security and all are awaiting his arrival.

A few hours later, and just prior to the Client’s arrival we hit another obstacle – due to the massive crowds, the police officers on site had now blocked off the adjacent streets and would not let vehicles closer to the venue. –No exceptions.  The frustration of the officers was very evident, likely because of the amount of people that voiced their displeasure at them once they learned the routes were blocked off.  I tried a variety of approaches with the officers but they did not intend to change their mind regardless of the VIP.  Of course the Detail leader did not want to hear that, and even in the heavy traffic, I knew they would be arriving shortly and there was no way the client was making the quarter mile walk on foot. I enlisted the aid of the venue security and after putting our heads together, got access to a vehicle from the interior side of the street closure.

Once the Principal’s vehicle arrived, we quickly moved the client and the travel party into the new vehicle and whisked it down the street.  I, however, watched that last part happen curbside, as I was now tasked with parking and securing the client’s vehicle in a location where parking spaces were a valuable but rapidly shrinking commodity.  After finding one, I then knew I had almost a half mile jog to get back to the security detail, all the while keeping in the back of my mind that I am going to have to do this again when it’s time to leave…

…Continued in the Spring 2012 Issue of The Circuit Magazine.   To subscribe to The Circuit – The Magazine for Bodyguards and the Official Magazine of the North American Bodyguard Association, click HERE.

 

The Circuit - The Magazine for Bodyguards (previous Issue)

An EPIC Recap

 

Had a great time speaking and attending the 30th Annual Conference hosted by Executive Protection Institute (EPI) and the Nine Lives Associates (NLA).  The event, held in Orlando Fl, consisted of a well balanced mix of seasoned industry veterans as well as  newcomers to the profession who were eager to network and learn.  This was also my first meeting with EPI’s esteemed founder Dr. Richard Kobetz who sat front row during my presentation entitled “A Day In the Life – The Anatomy of a VIP Protection Assignment.”  (When he told me that he enjoyed it, it more than made up for the powerpoint delay that happened at the start!)  With additional presentations that included Harlan “Hucky” Austin, Robert “Rick” Colliver, Charles Randolph, Bill Peeler and a keynote by Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman, I knew I was in esteemed company. Additional thanks to EPI Executive Director Jerry Heying and his team for putting on a great event.

Thanks for the invite,

Elijah Shaw, CEO

Icon Services Corporation  

             

2012 ICON Academy Executive Protection Training Dates

 

Celebrity & VIP Protection Course :  (5 Days) January 11-15, 2012  **HELD FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ARIZONA**

A five-day course of practical theory and hands-on training in the world of Celebrity & VIP Protection including the fundamentals of Close Protection.  Taught by industry veteran Elijah Shaw, who in addition to his corporate clients, has traveled the world as the personal bodyguard of international public figures such as musical giant Usher, supermodel Naomi Campbell, and rap megastar 50 Cent, the class covers not only tactics but marketing & career search, and social media techniques like buying facebook views to increase your business rating.

Advanced Executive Protection Course:  (10 Days) January 16-25, 2012 **HELD FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ARIZONA**

This intensive 10-day class is an excellent tool for Operators sharpening their skills with a focus on conducting close protection assignments with a potential high threat level. Work with experienced professionals who are not teaching “theory” put practical applications developed from many years of doing the job.  Taught by Instructors  in private security working globally in a number of high-risk environments including Iraq, Afghanistan, Europe, Southeast Asia, South and Central America.

 

If you are interested in learning more about any of the above Close Protection related courses from Icon Services Corporation, including our special financing options, click HERE.  

We stand behind the quality of our teaching methods and can also put you in contact with previous Alumni to talk about their past experiences.  Group & back-to-back course discounts apply.

 

 

Police Crack Down on Bodyguards at Canada Awards Show

The issue of regulation and licensing of Executive Protection Agents (Bodyguards) has often been an area subject to challenge, and contention within the  Protection industry.  No matter were you fall on the issue, it appears that Canada has taken a vocal stance, using the International Indian Film Awards held in Toronto to illustrate their point.

Via the Canadian Press:

Police are set to lay nearly 150 charges, alleging numerous security guards working at the International Indian Film Awards show in Toronto last month weren’t properly licensed.

Two British nationals have already been charged for allegedly providing close protection to a Bollywood star without having the credentials to do so.

And another 142 charges are pending after a police investigation into private security services during the International Indian Film Academy awards, which hosted events from June 23 to 25.

They include 24 counts of employing an unlicensed security guard, 16 counts of working as an unlicensed security guard and 96 counts of licensed agency permit uniform violation.

For the full story click HERE.

How do you feel about it, good for the industry or no?

 

ICON CEO Elijah Shaw to speak at ESI Conference

 

Ask someone familiar with the Protection industry and Executive Security International (ESI) is sure to make the top 5 list pretty much each and every time.  Refereed by some as the Harvard of Protection schools, the well respected academy is hosting their annual International Executive Protection Conference August 5-7, 2011 at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

As their past line up of speakers have included Tony Scotti, John Wiesman and Tom Taylor the conference has a reputation for being multi-dimensional and engaging.  With all that said, I was deeply honored when asked to be a speaker at the upcoming event alongside a distinguished line up that includes Pete Dordal, Massad Ayoob, and Chris Parkerson.

Join me in August on the topic of Celebrity & VIP Protection, hosted by a fantastic organization that puts the N in Networking.

For more information on the conference as well as biographies of the speaker line up, click HERE.

 

Women Can Be Their Own Bodyguard

Proving that you don’t have to be in the bodyguard business to benefit from some of the safety and fitness training that goes into high-end security work.  ICON CEO Elijah Shaw takes TCL Reporter Emily Engberg through our new Safety & Fitness Course designed for civilian women.

Pulled from elements of our highly acclaimed ICON Celebrity & VIP Protection Training Program that has helped bodyguards from around the globe to operate successfully in the world of Executive Protection, this unique course is a great way for women to challenge themselves mentally & physically, while at the same time learning new skills that could one day literally save their life.

To learn more about the course or register, click HERE.

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.

Dinner Party Etiquette for the Executive Protection Agent

Bodyguard Blogs new ongoing feature on Etiquette & Protocol.  Like any other profession, image is important in our business and first impressions are lasting ones.  Knowing how to shoot is great, but if you can not get a second interview with an employer, all those great skills might go to waste.  To assist, we’ve once again enlisted the services of writer and etiquette coach, Susanne Dancer.

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Q:  I occasionally need to attend formal dinner parties with my Principal. What’s the best way to navigate the meal without looking out of place? – Chester Balley, Close Protection Agent, NY

A: The best rule of thumb to navigate a formal meal is start from the outside and work your way in. So in simple terms when looking at cutlery, start from the outside and work your way into the centre.

In terms of the Courses, it usually goes: entrees or soup, mains, desserts and sometimes cheese. To your left is your bread and butter plate and knife. Above the knives are the glasses.

Alcoholic beverages such as wine or champagne usually accompany most formal dinning, however in the Executive Protection industry, I should hope it goes without saying to never drink on duty.  I would even go so far as to say you should also avoid dark or carbonated non-alcoholic drinks served in the same glassware as other guest who are drinking as it might give the wrong perception to a client.

If the menu is a-la-carte (as in restaurant meal) pick things that are not messy and both easy to eat, and digest.  (Of course that means pasta is usually off the menu).  Try and make sure you finish before the client does as keeping the VIP waiting is a no-no.

Bon appétit!

Additional websites for reference:

http://whatscookingamerica.net/Menu/DiningEtiquetteGuide.htm

http://www.etiquettescholar.com/

http://www.calumet.purdue.edu/careerservices/dining.html

Previously:  Tipping Etiquette for Executive Protection Agents

Previously:  The Bodyguard Wardrobe

Susanne Dancer is a former butler and administrator who has trained with the Guild of Professional English Butlers.  Her work in Etiquette has taken her from Brisbane to London with an emphasis on International Protocol.  She is regularly consulted as an expert in her field on subjects such as how to dress appropriately while working with High Net Worth individuals, and the delicate subject of table manners.

Have an etiquette question for Susan?  Ask it HERE.

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Susanne Dancer

American Tourist Shot During World Cup

An American man was robbed and shot while in Johannesburg South Africa for the World Cup.  The 35 year old LA resident was on his way to his hotel in the affluent Sandton area when he was assaulted by four men.  He is currently hospitalized in stable condition.

For the full Associated Press story, click HERE.

During my time there on assignment, I found South Africa, and Johannesburg in particular to be a mass of contradictions.  Modern yet historical.  Friendly citizens with national pride, yet this undertone of fear that was apparent almost everywhere.

*In the article, they quote a police spokesperson as saying that the mans life was not in danger.  (Quick note:  Any time your shot and robbed, your life is in danger.)

See related:  World Cup Security Breakdowns

Security & Safety at the World Cup