Category Archives: Good for the industry?

Playing Well With Others in Executive Protection

The 2014 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 are 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 Protectee’s GreenRoom, 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 we simply 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.

Allow me to relate a personal story; Rewind several years back to an earlier Grammy event where I attend with my Principal. While there I was impressed with the attitude and attentiveness of one of the gentleman working with the event security staff named TC. He assisted with intel beyond what was required and in general made our movements on site easier. While waiting in front of the dressing room, I remember a nearby agent working with an A-lister making a condescending comment about the event staff just being glorified doormen or retired cops –essentially, not on his level.

Afterwards I found that I would always run into TC at other prestigious events and he provided that same level of service when possible. He sent me his CV and after reviewing his impressive credentials I knew the agent that made the snarky remark didn’t know what he hell he was talking about. As things happen, one day I had to staff a last minute assignment and was short coverage, I called TC up, a bit nervous about what to expect but my back was to the wall. Long story short, he covered the assignment exceeding expectations. I share this to say that if I had felt annoyed or threatened by this professional I would have been 1. Making my job harder and 2. Missing out on a valuable resource that has helped me in my goal of making sure my clients are all well taken care of.

The right attitude can take you further in this business than a right hook, so we have to remember to practice our “people skills” the same way we practice our shooting skills.

ICON ESI Executive Protection Training

Social Media & Professional Development

 

About a week ago I put up an Executive Protection Scenario on the Corporate and Facebook Pages of the North American Bodyguard Association.  On it, I posed the following along with the associated photo:

“Grammy night. Pre-show red carpet. Your Principal, a celebrity, has had a public falling out with another well recognized celebrity a few days before who is also nominated. The incident is currently the buzz of the tabloids and Blogs. Using the photo below as a reference, what considerations, actions and contingencies do you plan prior to bringing the P out onto the red carpet?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As is typical with the scenarios, I got some good answers from some seasoned industry vets, along with some interesting points of view from newcomers who also try their hand at solving the problem.  It’s the mix of the two that have made taking the time out of my schedule to craft and post the scenarios worth it.   A little bit of backstory:  When I was coming up in the Executive Protection field, interaction with individuals already in the field that did not personally know you was rare.  Now fast forward to 2013 and having the opportunity to get valued opinions and viewpoints from not only all over the country but all over the world via social media, is not just amazing, it’s revolutionary.

Don’t misinterpret me, reading a few online blogs and participating in some newsgroup chats, won’t make you proficient in this field, but what it can do, *in the right settings* is be a part of your ongoing training and personal development.  Through reading, participating and interacting, the Protection Specialist can grow in an industry where too many think just because they completed a 7 day course, or served in law enforcement or are former military, they know it all.   Don’t take my word for it, pay a visit to the Facebook page of the NABA by clicking HERE and read some of the post that are taking place.  If those interest you, check out the Official Members-Only Site and get an even more in-depth look at the Close Protection industry from a global perspective. 

Oh and the reason for this post —

the BET Award Show just occurred in Atlanta, GA this weekend.  At it, two rival performers and their entourages, bodyguards included, were involved in a melee that warranted enough attention to involve the police and be covered in the mainstream press.   Upon reading this, I ask myself, did the respective artist’s security have a plan in place to avoid their client’s crossing paths?  Had they even thought about it?  Well, I do know this, if they had visited the NABA site, they would have at the very least, have read some very well thought out suggestions from industry professionals.

 

Saadi Gaddafi Bodyguard Outlines Escape

Mr. Gary Peters name has been attached to many story surrounding the fall of the Gaddafi family in Lybia, almost to the point where it reads like a Hollywood film.   I’ll say one thing for him, he’s standing by his client to the end.

via:  Lateline

EMMA ALBERICI: What exactly did Saadi Gaddafi ask of you?

GARY PETERS: Nothing was asked of me from Saadi Gaddafi. Ah, my concern and always is with all my clients is their safety, their well-being, their rite of passage, how they’re going to get there. The secondary is their families. The third is their associates. Beginning of 2011, I instigated or tried to begin a process of getting him or extracting him from Libya to a different destination. That was in 2011. Um, why? Because of how I knew how he felt about Libya, how I knew how he felt about the circumstances there, how I knew how he felt about his family. And then my thoughts and my feelings on his safety. Not willing to lose a friend. Not willing to lose a client. And also having feelings of the same way he does about the people of Libya.

EMMA ALBERICI: I’ll just pick you up on that point about knowing what Saadi Gaddafi was feeling. Can you articulate that for us?

GARY PETERS: He wasn’t happy with the situation in Libya. He wasn’t happy with the situation in Benghazi in February when there was a massacre in Benghazi. He had nothing to do with that. The media was reporting that he ordered this and ordered that. That’s rubbish. That’s garbage. He had nothing to do with that massacre. But – he went there because he was ordered to by his father to go and talk to the people. That’s why he went there in February. But the situation in Libya, for the people, for – everything that was happening, he was very distraught about that.

EMMA ALBERICI: You talk about extracting him from Libya; what was the plan?

GARY PETERS: The plan was to get him out of Libya and his family to another destination legally, somebody that would host him, some country that would host him and do everything legally. There was like paperwork, documentation, transportation, air transportation, property acquisition and ongoing security, so to speak. That was the plan. Now he never asked for this. This was done on our own bat to be presented to him to say, “OK, boss, you know, OK, Saadi, this is what I think should happen.”

For the full (and interesting) interview including video, click HERE.

See related HERE.

Gadhafi bodyguard disputes Mexican Account of Arrest

A Canadian security contractor who served as a bodyguard for members of Libya’s deposed Gadhafi family says there was a plan to move one of the former dictator’s sons to Mexico, but it was abandoned long before a Canadian woman was arrested by Mexican authorities.

In an exclusive interview with CBC News, Gary Peters, based in Cambridge, Ont., says Cynthia Vanier consulted on a plan to move al-Saadi Gadhafi and members of his family to Mexico, but it was abandoned in June when it was deemed to be illegal.

“The idea — it was put to rest.”

Mexican authorities allege Vanier led a plot to smuggle Gadhafi family members to properties being bought in an exclusive gated community of Punta Mita near Puerto Vallarta.

For the full story click HERE.

 

See Related:

Partners of US Security Firm Arrested For Alleged Gaddafi Rescue Connection

 

 

Partners of US Security Firm Arrested For Alleged Gaddafi Rescue Connection

 

A Canadian who led a fact-finding mission to Libya last summer has been arrested in Mexico, and two partners of the U.S. private security contractor who supplied her plane are also in custody.  The Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa confirmed the arrest of Cynthia Vanier and said consular officials at the Canadian embassy in Mexico City were gathering information from local authorities.  Also arrested were two partners of Gregory Gillispie, an ex-Marine who heads Veritas Worldwide Security, a San Diego-based company that offers, among other services, “clandestine operations,” “armed combat” and provision of weapons.

Mr. Gillispie said in an interview his partners were supposed to meet Ms. Vanier and her financier in Mexico City so she could hand over the roughly US$40,000 she owed for a small private jet Veritas had provided for her Libyan trip in July.

“Probably I guess about 10 days to two weeks ago she called and said that the person that has the authority to write the cheques, in other words the person that would pay her, is going to be in Mexico City, if we could come down there, we’ll get paid,” he said.

“So two of my other partners went down there to meet Cindy and this financier, is what you’d call him. And now I’m being told that my two partners have been incarcerated,” he said. “I don’t understand what this is all about.”

He said he found out about the arrests on Sunday but isn’t sure when they occurred. He said the detained men are his business partners in an aviation brokerage company. He doesn’t know why they are being held. “They’re basically victims of circumstance.”

Ms. Vanier runs Vanier Consulting Ltd., incorporated in 2009 in Mount Forest, Ont. The company website describes her as a negotiator, mediator, fact-finder and consultant who works mostly with First Nations.  During the anti-Gaddafi revolution in Libya, she got a contract from an undisclosed financier to travel to Tripoli on a fact-finding expedition and began assembling a team. Mr. Gillispie said his company was contracted to supply a private plane for the trip.

Mexican prosecutors did not respond by deadline to questions about why the three were held, however sources suspect it may be because Security for the trip was provided by Gary Peters, CEO of Can/Aust Security and Investigations International in Cambridge, Ont. A former Australian soldier, Mr. Peters has gone on public recording declaring to be a  member of the Gaddafi family’s security team.  Mr. Peters returned to Canada on the jet but said he went back to Libya in August and helped Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saadi escape Tripoli to Niger in a convoy. He said he was caught in an ambush after crossing back into Libya and was shot in the shoulder.

For the full story, click HERE and HERE.

 

The Reason Behind Herman Cain Request for Secret Service Protection?

Herman Cain on Thursday became the first Republican presidential candidate to receive Secret Service protection.  Cain asked for the security and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and congressional leaders approved his request Thursday, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan confirmed.

As stated above Mr. Cain had to formally request and be approved for services this early in the campaign.   Campaign sources are stating the request came as the result of  “threats” made against the candidate.   Spokesmen for the USSS would neither confirm or deny these statements.

While it stands to reason that having the current Republican front runner be an African American might certainly inflame hostile fringe elements,  prior to the request being approved Mr. Cain had been suffering from a series of bad press regarding his bodyguards see HERE and HERE.   This has caused  some to wonder if eliminating this negative attention and the potential errors a less-than-effective protection detail could provide played any part in the early request.

From a security perspective Herman Cain now has what many (including myself) would call the best protection team in the world watching his back and can now get back to campaigning.

 

 

Turkish Bodyguards Scuffle With UN Security

 

The story of scuffles between the Close Protection Team for Diplomats and the Security Detail of the Host have been a topic of recent discussion on the public message boards of the North American Bodyguard Association.  Add another example into a long list, this time occurring at the United Nations.  

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s security detail got into a violent brawl on Friday with U.N. security guards outside the General Assembly hall, leaving at least two U.N. personnel injured, including one who was taken to the hospital, possibly with broken ribs, according to U.N. diplomats and officials.

The Turkish leader tried to rush to get into the U.N. chamber to take his seat.

He and his entourage, however, were stopped at an exit near the meeting room and told they could not enter the hall from that exit. The Turkish guards demanded that their prime minister be allowed to pass, and allegedly pushed the U.N. security guards. The U.N. guards pushed back, and the Turks apparently began swinging. One diplomat who was working on the floor two stories below said he could hear the fighting.

Read the full story HERE.

* UPDATED * Now includes the (shaky) video between the Turkish Protection Detail and the Uniformed UN Security Staff

Officers Suspended for Moonlighting for Celebrity

 

Looks like moonlighting for a celebrity came back to bite these law enforcement officers in the long run…

 

6 Metro Nashville Police officers were suspended for driving Taylor Swift’s security team after being denied permission to perform the outside work.

5 Officers were suspended for 10 days, with one Sargent  suspended for 12 days.

The officers sought approval for the driving job, but their request was rejected, according to the department’s internal investigation, which was completed in May.

Elrod, who recently retired from the department, said in an interview that they continued doing the job anyway, hoping supervisors wouldn’t find out.

He said they needed the $30 an hour the work provided.

Click HERE for the full story.

 

2011 Executive Protection Conference Wrap Up

 

The 2011 International Executive Protection Conference sponsored by ESI just wrapped and by all accounts it was a great success.     The good folks at Executive Security International were gracious hosts who combined industry vendors, engaging speakers, and of course valuable networking opportunities.  I plan to write more about the conference, of which I had the honor of presenting a lecture on the Perks & Pitfalls of Celebrity & VIP Protection, but right now I have to board a plane and get back to work.

 

Duty calls,

 

Elijah Shaw

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?