Principal Protection; Lessons Learned
A Q&A between Benjamin Alozie of the Summit Group & R.E. “Rick” Colliver, Author of Principal Protection; Lessons Learned
First off, how did you come up with the title of the book, Principal Protection; Lessons Learned?
Good question, answerable in two parts…having been a student of the art since 1977 (my first detail was actually for President Gerald Ford in 1974, but I was a military “volunteer” for that one), I noticed how different schools and different protection personnel couldn’t agree on what it was we did for a living…Executive Protection, Dignitary Protection, Personal Protection etc. So I looked at what our job was and broke it down to the basics: we protect Principals. Henceforth, the course that we developed for the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy carried that name. Depending on where you find your career taking you, the skills you learn protecting a military officer in a combat theater can help you transition to protecting a corporate executive. The skills you learned protecting a Governor, could also prepare you to protect a football player or entertainer. You still protect Principals.
The second part of the answer is that we live in an era where people want to know “why” as often as they want to know “what”. In other words, why do we do something this way or that way”? When you look at how protection has evolved over the past three thousand years, you’ll see that almost every significant development that got us where we are today, occurred as a result of someone getting assaulted or killed. As a matter of procedure, almost all of the big details require a debrief at the conclusion of every protection mission. This gives participants a chance to analyze what went right and what went wrong. Thus, we improve our performance and capabilities by analyzing “lessons learned”.
I’m sorry to say that I didn’t invent anything in the book…no patents on new technology, no major improvements in any process. All I did was bring together the teachings of a great many professionals who, every time they got bloodied on the job, got back up and figured out a new way to do things.
What inspired you to make the commitment to sit down and write the book?
Actually, it started out as handouts that we used in our protection classes to support lectures. Every year, the handouts got larger and larger, and one day the OPOTA course coordinator said, “Why don’t you write a book?” As I was driving home scratching my head, it suddenly hit me that I already had most of the research and material knocked out. I just put it all together…which probably explains why it won’t win any awards for impeccable continuity.
Please forgive me, however this is a serious question, in the digital age of YouTube and Facebook, do people even read anymore?
Good friend and Varro Press President Michael Nossaman and I have had several discussions about the trends in print vs. electronic media. I think we are seeing a gradual reduction in printed text and an increase in online sources and electronic readers like Kindle. The libraries of the past may soon fit into your pocket. With that in mind, I will be making Principal Protection; Lessons Learned available on Kindle after the first of the year. I am also working with an applications engineer and a former broadcast journalist to create an app for cell phones that will facilitate advance work and protective intelligence collation, while on the road. More to follow on that!
What were some of the challenges that you encountered while writing the book?
Continuity and innovation. Because this was pieced together over a 15-20 year period, it was a challenge to make sure what made it into final print was current and accurate, and fit together with all the other pieces. Also, there have been a hundred or so books written about protection over the years and I wanted this one to be different. Unfortunately, as I said, there’s nothing “new” in there. I just took the old stuff and put it all together in a format that gives you what you need in a compact package. Hopefully though, we give readers a comprehensive reference that will help them do their jobs.
Why should Principal Protection; Lessons Learned, be on the read list of professionals in the industry?
This is not another “how-to” book on protection – it is more of a “why-to”. Security is one of the first line-items to get reduced in a corporate budget, because we aren’t seen as a profit center. Add to that the IRS Rule that makes some organizations report their EP costs in public filings, and we quickly see how the burden falls to provide adequate protection at minimal cost. This means that we can’t afford to send 4-agent details everywhere the Protectee goes. We have to manage protection according to anticipated risk, threat and exposure. Thus, if we can educate security managers with “why” we need to do things, then they can use their own creativity to implement successful protection plans even when they don’t have human assets on duty. Teaching people how to walk around in a Diamond formation, or how to ram a car, really doesn’t do this. Those are reactive skills, which, when you think about it are totally subordinate to our protective mission — which is to prevent intentional and unintentional harm from affecting the Protectee. We are hired to keep them out of harm’s way – not to stage dramatic rescues…spinning back-kicks…mid-air interception of speeding bullets and the like. Protection specialists need to have a personal toolbox full of both hard and soft skills. However, in the long run, the soft skills will keep you and your boss alive longer.
Are there any emerging security trends that you think Protectors need to take notice of in order to more successfully operate in the years to come?
Technologically, we are seeing more things done by video analytics that used to be done by humans. I encourage everyone to attend an ASIS conference sometime just to find out what kinds of new products are hitting the market. You need to be able to successfully integrate electronic and human security programs that support the Protectee’s business objectives, so that they will feel that you are adding value.
Protection specialists need to increase their personal training portfolios to include topics like Crisis Management, Disaster Response and Environmental Health and Safety. I know we all enjoy the hands-on training like shooting and car-spinning, but are we familiar with the difference between a rickettsia and a virus, or the various ways that anthrax can be introduced into the human system. Wouldn’t it be a shame that as we did our bomb sweep of the venue, we walked right past a chemical weapon because we didn’t know what it was? If you have a tornado or earthquake affecting thousands or millions of people, do you have a plan to get around?
Is there any other specific advice you would like to share with your audience beyond the pages of the book?
Build your network. Attend events like EPIC and the ICON Summit because that’s where you will meet people that can make your job easier. Take professional training from qualified schools because that will get your professional network started. When you complete an EP program, the people in your graduating class will be your friends and peers for the rest of your career!
R. E. “Rick” Colliver has served as the global security director for two multi-national corporations with operations in 24 time zones, and has managed protection details on four continents. He is the course developer and lead instructor in the Principal Protection program at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy and is an adjunct instructor in protective operations through several police, military and academic organizations. He has held security clearances with the US DoD and DHS, and serves as an advisory board member with the American Board for Certification in Dignitary and Executive Protection, and a Council Member for the Protective Security Council.
Benjamin Alozie is a member of the Summit Group and the International Director of ICON Global, responsible for the development and implementation of policies and procedures of the firms international operations. Benjamin has extensive experience working on multiple continents with a special emphasis on Africa and Europe. With a background that includes the ability to speak 7 different languages and multiple dialects, Benjamin has conducted long term Protective Assignments for Foreign Heads of States traversing the world.
Purchase Principal Protection; Lessons Learned HERE. Meet Rick Colliver and discuss his book and other Executive Protection Industry Topics at the 2nd Annual ICON Academy Social Summit. Learn more about the Summit HERE.