Icon – Behind the Bodyguard Business holds a spotlight where we feature someone in the Executive Protection, Security or Investigation industry. Our hope is to provide some insight into our profession and also show newcomers & the media that people from all walks of life and all parts of the globe do this type of work with honor and pride. No it’s not like the movies, but it can be rewarding, thrilling, and yes, sometimes fun.
Agent Name: Jerry MacCauley
Company: Sexton Executive Security, Inc.
Position: Assistant Director
Home city: Chattanooga, Tennessee
What made you decide you wanted to get into the Protection industry?
I have recently retired after 29 years in law enforcement. Having had many occasions where the protection of VIPs was assigned to officers with little or no specialized training, it seemed a natural progression to seek additional skills. A few times, while on an assignment with other officers, it occurred to us that we were not prepared to deal with anything that might cause an evacuation or intervention. Of course, as police officers, we had a support system but I knew that providing professional protective services was much more involved. In fact, there had been a few occasions where sudden changes in the itinerary created havoc, since no one considered we might need a “plan B.” Training had always been one of my strengths so it was natural to learn more about the business. That led to me being able to provide well-trained teams when needed for short-term assignments. Like many other professions, the skills needed to provide personal protection are not necessarily covered in traditional military or law enforcement curriculums. Upon completing my first training course, I began to understand this and have set out to provide as much relevant information to students as possible.
What kind of duties are you currently involved in?
My training duties led to my current position as assistant director of training for Sexton Executive Security, Inc. Sexton is an operational as well as training firm with the goal of providing well trained agents who can be utilize when needed. All graduates are eligible for certification by Commonwealth of Virginia DCJS as Personal Protection Specialists and can operate legally once properly licensed.
What are some of the differences between working as an Operator and a trainer? Do you prefer one to the other?
I have reached the age where I much prefer training new agents than working the protective assignments. Although I will occasional handle a detail to stay fresh, I get more satisfaction watching new agents as they make the transition from their former careers to this exciting field. As you mentioned, the Hollywood image has created some unrealistic expectations from both the agents and the clients. Providing well-trained personnel is the best way to keep this industry moving in a positive direction. As you realized some time ago, there are many areas of specialization that can be exploited in this business. You may be a great corporate type or have exceptional skills for dealing with high threat environments. Not everyone is compatible for each niche and that is where training becomes paramount. Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know. Matching skills to the assignment is an art form in itself.
Can you share a bit of one of your best experiences in the industry so far?
On a recent training class, we presented a team of highly motivated students with a fairly routine, but real time, scenario in Washington D.C.. The team provided protection for our training cadre in a well-known restaurant. As is often the case in these establishments, there are other VIP’s that show up with their own bodyguards. As our team had positioned themselves in strategic locations, a woman came in with 2 of her “protection team members.” The protection team had walked ahead of their client and had climbed a few steps to another level. As they passed our team members, the client stumbled and was immediately caught by one of our students. Her protectors were totally unaware that she had stumbled, or that she had been “saved” by another team. I thought that our guys were going to be hired away before graduation. Having the ability to watch our students perform so well in the real world was extremely rewarding. In fact, we were able to find assignments for most of them within weeks of graduation. Their attention to detail set them apart from most others with little or no training. I’m not a “star-struck” type of person and I have little need for personal recognition in this field but there is nothing like the feeling that you get from knowing you provided a professional to go out in the field and give our industry a good name.
I notice you are active in Social Networking and actually in my opinion seem to “get it” maybe a bit more so that some of our contemporaries in the industry. What do you attribute that to?
The social networking phenomenon has given many the opportunities to share ideas and exchange resources and experiences. In the fast paced world that we live and operate in, the only way to stay up to date with the state of the industry is by sharing information. That is the best thing about having thousands of professionals in one spot to pass along their experiences, rather than the traditional method of trial and error. The networking opportunities available will continue to be how we stay connected for many years, and hopefully, will provide training and job offerings to those of us in the business.
To those just entering the profession, what advice would you give?
For those who wish to get into this field, my advice would be to look for a training school that has a solid reputation for turning out high quality students. Don’t merely do a goose search and get taken in by a fancy website or low rates. Learn as much as you can about the particular niche that you wish to get involved in, such as celebrity, corporate, high threat, large events, etc., then get connected to those who actually work in those areas. Consider the curriculum that each school offers, especially check that the instructors have actual experience in the topics they teach. If the school doesn’t openly share these things, then that should send up a red flag. Finally, I would suggest that new agents find a mentor. It may be a member of the training schools cadre or a senior member of a protection team, but it’s important to have someone to provide tips of the trade. It will save countless hours of frustration if you learn from the professionals.
Thank you for the opportunity to share some of my experiences with your readers.