Category Archives: Good for the industry?

The Updated ICON Facebook Page

 

Social Media.

I know some people in my industry are a bit “gun-shy” of the term (pun intended) because of privacy and confidentiality concerns.   However, I can actually remember when people thought cell phones and laptops were not going to take off because of the cost, difficultly of use, or just becuase it was different from what they were use to.   Well like it or not, it’s 2011 and Social Media is here to stay.  Nowadays Twitter, Linked-In and of course Facebook are mainstays and the phrase comes to mind “Adapt or Die”.   I feel we on the business end of the Executive Protection industry can still do our job, respect confidentiality, while at the same time make the marketplace aware of our services.

With that said, I’d like to invite everyone to visit the new interactive ICON Facebook Page.  While It’s no secret i”ve been active on the World Wide Web for many years now, I think our new Facebook page will be beneficial in integrating the networking and connectivity of Facebook with Icon’s Corporate site and Bodyguard Blog.

However, don’t just take it from me, click HERE to jump right over.   Pay particular interest to the I-C-O-N tabs along the left hand side  of the page which takes you to our Store, Training Page and Video Page.   Also please help us spread the word by clicking on the “Share” or “Like” buttons to let others in your network know.

Elijah Shaw, CEO

ICON Services Corporation

Houston Officers Disciplined for taking Photos with Celebrities

While the incident between a celebrities security and a male who happened to be a West Point Cadet has been commented on at length at several different places across the ‘net, I also want to mention another fire I saw brewing from the moment I watched the footage.  I’m speaking about the on-duty officers who stopped working long enough to take photos with the celebrity.  Unless they were clueless of the incident that occurred minutes before, I think there was a lapse in judgement, if nothing else from appearances sake. Best police scanner app helps to send correct data and notifications.

The Houston Examiner reports :

Two Houston Police officers have been disciplined for posing in pictures with a celebrity’s bodyguards after an airport scuffle that made national headlines.

A new criminal investigation has also been launched into the encounter. Visit investigationhotline.org  to hire a highly experienced personal detective to solve your personal or corporate criminal cases.

West Point cadet Richard King, 23, is suing legendary R & B singer Patti Labelle after her bodyguards pounced on him in a videotaped scuffle on March 11th.    King said his career at the United States Military Academy at West Point ended because of the ordeal.

Video that was aired on news outlets worldwide showed three of Labelle’s bodyguards confronting King in an intense physical struggle in which King claims in his lawsuit that he was beaten, shoved, and assaulted.

Shortly after medics took him away, the surveillance video of the encounter shows at least one Houston Police officer embracing Labelle and posing for photographs near a pool of blood that King had left on the ground in the spot where he was confronted.

Sgt. David Johnson has been given formal notice that he is being transferred away from the HPD Airport Division as a result of his posing for pictures in this ordeal.   One HPD source involved in the case says Sgt. Johnson had gotten into trouble for the same thing in the past. (emphasis mine, ES) That source said Sgt. Johnson had been seeking autographs and photographs with other celebrities he encountered while patrolling the airport and escorting dignitaries through the airport, which prompted supervisors to warn him against similar encounters in the future.

For the full article click HERE.

It’s more the mentality than anything, and I take issue when it occurs on a protective detail in which the officer are involved.  In many cases law enforcement may be used in an official (or unofficial capacity) by Executive Protection Teams, however compensation for that isn’t intended to come in the form of an autograph or a picture.  Theres a time and place for everything, and more often than not, that request comes at moments that increase rather than limit the VIP’s exposure. Learn about integrated solutions to secure yourself.

As far as the rest of this story.  it’s unfortunate and one that i’m sure will be concluding in the courts.

Ethics in the Executive Protection Industry

The Issue of Ethics

 

By Elijah Shaw

 

Recently on the North American Bodyguard Association’s  discussion board (found at either www.AmericanBodyguards.org) I brought up the subject of moral dilemmas and how they affect the security professional, particularly those involved heavily with close protection.  Because we wanted honest answers to the “What would you do if…” question, we even allowed participants to post their answers anonymously.  While the discussion was lively and a lot of good points were made, I had the sneaky suspicion in the back of my brain that while most answered overwhelmingly on the side of “I won’t cross the line for a client that breaks anything other than a minor law or two” I wondered if those that felt otherwise just choose to keep it to themselves? Anonymous feature or not.

There is an unavoidable reality to the situation that clients are hard to find and once you have them we traditionally do everything in our power to hold on to them and keep them happy.   A bird in the hand so to speak.  But when faced with a situation that might be at odds with our individual ethics, do we turn a blind eye to the activity, or do we hold our ground regardless of the employment consequences?  Of course by and large we all consider ourselves honorable people but the reality of life is that each of us has our own internal compass.  Additionally there’s an age old saying “it’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove.”  Does that mean that allowing a client to “get away” with something is ok as long as there is very minimal chance that it would come back to bite you?

Notice that I have not given any examples of the moral dilemmas that are the topic of this column.  That is intentional because up into this point, I wanted you, the reader, to come up with your own set of circumstances in your minds eye.  What may be a black and white to one protection agent may be a shade of grey to another.  However, for the purposes of this discussion, allow me to pose a few questions.  Answer truthfully, and since this article is not required reading for an Executive Protection oral exam (yet) the only person you have to be honest with is yourself.

 

Situation #1

 

Your client is a wealthy businessman who has always treated you fairly.  At a country club dinner you sit the next table over and hear the client and his associate engage in conversation that includes a lengthy discussion filled with degrading hate speech about a particular minority group.  Once back in the car he asks how you feel about that particular group.  What do you say?

 

Expanding on that: Would your response change if hypothetically your son were now married to a woman in that particular racial group?

 

Situation #2

 

You receive instructions from your Principal that you’re to accompany him on a two day out of town business trip.  Once there you quickly notice that your married client is actually engaged in an affair and that this trip is just a cover story.  Weeks later the Principal’s wife pulls you to the side, and with tears in her eyes tells you what she suspects and begs to know the truth.  What do you do?

 

Would you answer change if she confided that he has physically abused her and that your affirmation of the affair would be grounds for divorce so that she could finally leave him?

 

Situation #3

 

Your client is a celebrated actress and philanthropist who just donated a large sum of money to a reputable charity in a much publicized manner.  You later discover documents showing that someone in the charity has funneled the money back to the client, effectively making it a PR stunt.  Do you do anything with this information?

 

Make the charity into one working on an autism cure.  Now imagine you had a younger sibling with severe autism.  Change anything?

 

Read the full story in The Circuit – The Magazine for Bodyguards by ordering HERE.    You can also receive 1 year’s subscription to The Circuit, by  joining the North American Bodyguard Association.  Click HERE for more info.

What Its Like For a Woman Training To Be A Bodyguard

by Lori Edwards

I distinctly remember coming to the sudden and uneasy conclusion that I really didn’t have any idea what I was getting myself into.  My seatmate on my flight had asked me why in the world a girl from Texas would come all the way to Minnesota by herself, especially in January, without any personal history there or family ties to the area.  I chuckled a little and explained that I’d be attending a class that would train me to become a bodyguard.  He wondered aloud if I was serious.  I simply smiled and nodded.

I’m not exactly what you’d picture a female bodyguard to be.  Although I’m very athletic with a daily routine of starting my day by throwing a few punches on the double end bags I have at home and I also have two black belts in Taekwondo, most people don’t suspect it.  In fact, most folks would take one look at me and drop me into the category of “indoor girl” pretty quickly.  And of course, so did my seatmate.  In rapid fire succession, he began showering me with questions regarding all the things the class might require of me, and if I thought I was adequately prepared for it.  The only response I could manage was, “I really don’t know.”

I spent the rest of the week finding out.

The 5-day ICON Celebrity & VIP Protection Course is arranged very intelligently.  Beginning with some brief welcoming statements and announcements, we jump right in.  ICON CEO, Elijah Shaw, starts with some lectures about team formations and foot drills.  About an hour in, we hop up from our seats and start literally walking out the things that his 17 years in the business has taught him.  Then we move into tactical weapons drills led by Assistant Instructor and resident firearms expert, Mike Briggs.  Holster drills on verbal command with a realistically heavy, but imitation firearm consume the next hour or so.  I must admit, having never handled a weapon either real or fake, this was challenging to me.  Trust me when I tell you, that during the initial movement drills I probably have never found my left and my right so ridiculously confusing.  Thankfully, our final instructor and champion mixed martial art fighter, Justin Newcomb rescued me by announcing to the class that it was time to take two hard laps and meet him in the gym.  Aaaahhhh, relief.  This part is something I know I can do, –Interval training.  The instructors tell us we will have a 5-minute workout.  It’s true.  What they don’t tell us, is that it’s a butt-kicking five minutes.  I’m game, and have the sneaky suspicion this won’t be the last time we’re at the gym. Then back to the classroom to discuss some of the broader issues of Executive Protection.

Did I mention, all this was before lunch?

We spend that afternoon and the next few days repeating the cycle of classroom discussion, walking/formation drills, weapons drills later on, live fire at the gun range), physical training and industry-specific do’s and don’ts.  Each session, we expand and practice our skills, and information received at a pace that only NASA can truly comprehend.  The instructors begin throwing in unexpected surprises to keep us guessing, and learning.  At the end of every day, I am spent.  I had no idea the amount of information that these professionals must process, and how quickly they must process it in order to keep their clients safe and sound.

Add to all that craziness the unique challenges that come with being female, and you begin to get a reasonable idea of my personal experience.  I wanted to make sure that I made a good impression right away, so I showed up on the first day looking nice.  Not formal ball-gown nice, but reasonably professional.  I had spent ample time online researching ICON and was well aware that Elijah Shaw is nearly always in a suit.  First rule of business: Never show up sloppy when the boss expects a suit.  I also knew that this course was very hands-on, and as such, there would be some physical activity.  No details were given as to our daily schedule or the demands thereof, so I decided to land somewhere in the middle.  I wore nice pants, a jacket I could remove easily, and my favorite stiletto boots.  I did fine until break time when Mike Briggs wandered up asking me if I had brought gym shoes.  I had, but they were in the hotel, because surely our kindhearted instructors would warn us of what we’ll need when we’ll need it.  Heads up future classmates:  a deliberate lack of pertinent information is a constant, so come prepared for anything – just like in the real world of VIP Protection. Needless to say, I spent most of the day running laps and all the other physical training in barefoot. (And carefully.  I mean you don’t really want to ruin a $65 pedicure slamming into the gym equipment so I considered it practice in situational awareness).

I also tried my hand at figuring out when it was safe to put my boots back on.  Just as soon as I had convinced myself that the workouts were finished for the day, I slipped them back on.  About that time, Justin Newcomb tiptoed up behind me and whispered, “You’re gong to want to take those boots off again….”.  Bless him.  I actually thought about running the laps while wearing the stilettos, but decided against it.  So I just gave up.  I wore running shoes the remainder of the week, however there’s more to the story where those boots are concerned.

Everything went smoothly until Friday night.  I ended up pulling an all-nighter as part of a real-world exercise through which ICON puts its course attendees.  I took the first client shift, which lasted from roughly 10pm to 6am.  I was wearing a radio device with which I have no previous experience.  In the chaos of last-minute information and preparation, I threw the earpiece on and the radio in my front jacket pocket.  There were several loose wires flapping about, but I didn’t really care as, the clock was ticking and I had to get on post.  No worries right?  Well that is until the instructors came to visit me on site.  There’s something very unsettling about three grown, strong men standing together in a huddle while smirking and rubbing their foreheads.  Mike Briggs convinced me to slip off my suit jacket and got me reorganized into the very picture of a female Close Protection Agent:  black jacket, white shirt, black skirt, black tights and those 4 & ½ inch black stiletto boots.  I’m a mom, so I know what its like to stay up all night looking after someone.  I’ve just never done it in those boots before.  You learn in training, so you don’t make the mistakes in the real world.

Twenty-four hours later, I find myself about to enter Force-on-Force Drills.  In that moment, I have no idea what is about to happen, I only know I’m not really crazy about the sound of it.  I’ve never shot the realistic airsoft training weapons before.  More importantly, I’ve never been shot BY the airsoft training weapons before!  I had nightmarish visions of being in a room with all my classmates and instructors just shooting ferociously until someone has the compassion to yell “TIME’S UP!”.  I worried needlessly.  That’s not what force-on-force drills are about.  These exercises are designed to place the trainee in situations that as closely as possible mimics real world experiences.  Trust me when I tell you they are valuable and bring a whole new element to the course.  To this day I find myself mentally rehearsing some of the multiple scenarios I went through that evening.  In my mind I’m moving the client, negotiating check points, climbing walls, jumping over people or things, asking questions, taking charge, providing cover, evacuating, locating exits, thinking critically, and looking for the less than obvious.

I think that’s the point of good, solid training:  It stays with you.

Before the ICON Celebrity & VIP Protection Course, I was just a yoga-mom from Texas.  During this course I challenged myself to become something that I’ve always envisioned:  brave, decisive, resourceful and capable.  In the middle of the week I questioned my decision to be there, and I questioned my ability to do this job to the extent that I thought about packing up and going home.

I’m so glad I didn’t.

By the end of the course, I had experiences I will never forget, and was handed opportunities I’d have never believed.  I was challenged far more than I expected, resulting in a depth of confidence I’ve never known.  I loved it so much that I’m actively seeking my next opportunity to train.  I’ll get some gun range time with Mike Briggs later in the spring, and hopefully, I’ll get to take the 10-day Advanced Executive Protection Course soon.  In the meantime, I’m hoping to establish a foundation in the industry through Advance work—The security preparations and logistics that occur before the actual client even enters the area.  We had one assignment specifically on advance work during the course, and I did particularly well at it.   I now find myself making mental sketches of practically any building I walk into, even here in my hometown.  I draw mental route cards, too, when I’m traveling.  So, I’ll be looking for opportunities to continue to implement skills, while my girls are attending summer camps and other things.  Eventually, and with continued training, I’d like to move toward protecting female celebrities at events, and finally as their personal protection.  We girls gotta look out for each other, you know.  I have to believe that for the newcomer or as a refresher, whatever your goals or interests are in the field of Executive & VIP Protection, this course will meet them.

Take it from the “indoor girl” – you’ll be glad you did.

Note:  We plan for this to be the first of several articles by Lori that while chronicle her experiences as a newcomer in the Executive Protection Industry. (of course without violating any client confidentiality.)  We hope that it will serve as an inspiration for others and the realities of the profession.

 

Bodyguard Fights to Stay in US

Ran across an very interesting  article regarding Nikolaos Skokos, the bodyguard to international singer Celine Dion and his battle against the US Department of Homeland Security to obtain a  permanent Visa.   Mr. Skokos, a Canadian resident is petitioning to stay in America under a little known immigration policy that that allows “aliens of extraordinary ability” — whether they are scientists, artists, athletes or in this case Executive Protection Agents — to become permanent residents.  the challenge is that Mr. Skokos has had to prove that “extraordinary ability” to the US Government.

Fascinating.

For the full story, click HERE.

Judge Dismisses Shooting Case Against Blackwater

A federal judge dismissed charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards accused of killing 14 Iraqi civilians in a controversial shooting in a busy Baghdad square two years ago in a ruling that sharply criticized the tactics of Justice Department prosecutors handling the case.

The judge, Ricardo M. Urbina of the District’s federal court, found that prosecutors and agents had improperly used statements that the guards provided to the State Department in the hours and days after the shooting. The statements had been given with the understanding that they would not be used against the guards in court, the judge found, and federal prosecutors should not have used them to help guide their investigation. Urbina said other Justice Department lawyers had warned the prosecutors to tread carefully around the incriminating statements.

The five Blackwater guards — a sixth has pleaded guilty — were indicted in December 2008 on manslaughter and weapons charges accusing them of killing and injuring unarmed civilians.

Federal prosecutors have said the guards killed 14 Iraqis and wounded 20 in an unprovoked blaze of bullets and grenade explosions. The guards’ attorneys have said their clients fired in self-defense after being shot at by insurgents.

The incident, which badly strained U.S.-Iraqi relations, was the most serious one involving private security contractors in recent years, and it raised questions about using such guards in war zones. It so badly stigmatized Blackwater that the company renamed itself Xe Services.

For the full story click HERE.

2010 – The Year in Review

As 2010 winds down I’d like to thank all of the readers and contributors of Bodyguard Blog for their support.  I’ll admit it was a challenge to run my agency, ICON Services Corporation, be an active Operator, and keep the Blog going on a consistent basis.  One of the things that helped, was constantly pulling in fresh content as well as realizing that I didn’t want Bodyguard Blog to be just about ME.

Some of our most popular post in 2010 were the Industry Spotlights, in which we cover professionals in the world of Executive Protection featuring:  The UK’s Shaun West, Old Soldier: Dave Marris, Sexton’s Jerry MacCauley, Mark James & Benjamin Alozie. (Look for more Female Close Protection Agents in 2011!)

In keeping with our philosophy that the Bodyguard Industry is more than just guns and take downs, we enlisted the aid of Protocol & Etiquette Coach Susanne Dancer to provide some lessons in the “soft skills” that would help us more effectively do our job.  You can find her tips on Protocol & Etiquette HERE.

And lastly, we all know that the job of VIP Protection is serious, but the people that do it, are just that –people, and can even crack a smile once in awhile — we introduced the very well received “Caption This” feature.  if you want to take a break from a stressful day and chuckle at humorous photos (and comments) click HERE.

Once again, thanks for  reading.   Big plans for 2011, so stay tuned!

~ Elijah Shaw


The Executive Protection Magazine

While Blogs & Newsgroups might be the wave of the future in terms of delivering up to the minute news reporting, there is still a place for the printed page.  In the world of Executive Protection, The Circuit Magazine fills that niche offering news, tips, interviews, equipment reviews and more with all things related to the Bodyguard & Close Protection Industry.

Now on issue #10, the fine folks at the North American Bodyguard Guard Association (NABA) also with the long-standing British Bodyguard Association (BBA) produce a full-color magazine that covers the A-Z of security industry.

A subscription to the magazine comes free with membership to either of the above organizations, or you can order individually HERE.

If past issues are what you are looking for, I’d also suggest checking out BodyguardMagazines.com, where you can order, and also find a preview of the articles.

Private Security Remains in Afghanistan

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has abandoned plans to scrap private security firms in the country by mid-December, the interior ministry says.

Fifty-four private security firms have been dissolved in recent weeks in a drive to clamp down on the industry.

But interior ministry officials said most of the 52 mainly Afghan firms remaining would retain their licences.

Private security firms provide guards at everything from diplomatic missions, aid agencies and supply convoys.

…In August, President Karzai gave private security companies four months to end operations in Afghanistan following concerns that some contractors empowered warlords and power brokers operating outside government control.

But recently aides to the president have advised him that the move to disband the network completely was ill-advised, as the security forces could not fill the gap.

“Their future operations will continue in accordance with the law and regulations in place,” an interior minister told a news conference in Kabul.

He said some of the 52 firms still operating remained under criminal investigation and could face closure; a list of banned companies would be announced on 17 December.

Mr Farahi said that those which remained would have to follow tighter rules. They would have to wear uniforms and would not be allowed to stop vehicles or block roads for security reasons.

For the full story, click HERE.

See previous:  Ban for Afghan Private Security Contractors

SO first the crackdown, and then the reshuffle.  It will be interesting to see how this continues to play out both through official and back channels.  ~ES

New Airport Scanner Screening Disaster

The controversy about the new full-body scanning systems implemented by the TSA is heating up the airwaves.  While no one is opposed to increased security, disaster stories like the one below show why public opinion is weighed heavily against the new procedures which subjects you a full body pat-down and has been charged with incidents like the one that happened in Australia to the woman who is actually now using for sexual assault.

And then of course, there’s this:

The airport screener arrested for assaulting a coworker who taunted him about the size of his private parts after his genitalia was exposed by a full-body scanner told police that he snapped after being subjected to “psychological torture” by fellow Transportation Security Administration employees who repeatedly asked him, “What size are you?”

In a handwritten statement given to cops following his May arrest, Rolando Negrin, 45, described the fallout after he walked through a high-tech “whole body image” scanner during a training session for TSA workers at Miami International Airport. Negrin’s statement to Miami-Dade Police Department officers,excerpted here, was obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request.

Negrin wrote that, despite his pleas, coworkers would not cease mocking him after the scanner gave them a revealing look.  For the full story click HERE.

For those in the Executive Protection industry charged with protecting our clients image as well as their well-being the new procedures are a cause for concern.   While the word “Private Jet” is thrown around quite a bit, the reality of it is more often than not VIP travel on commercial airlines and as such are subject to the same security screenings.   It will be interesting to see how our industry rises up to address these challenges.  ~ES