I recently wrote an article about the serious risks of having armed agents inside an unarmored vehicleAfter reading it, several colleagues asked me to write about the risks posed by armed agents inside the armored vehicle.
At first glance there is not much to say, since, if in an assault the aggressors decide to activate their weapons, the occupants of the vehicle will be less at risk, since they will be protected by the armor (of course, within the limits of ballistic resistance in each case and depending on the type of weapons of the aggressors and also on the driver's skills in keeping the vehicle moving, etc.), so apparently there would be no problem.
But unfortunately this is not the case. Paradoxical as it may sound, when you have weapons inside an armored unit, the risks come not only from the outside, but also from the inside.
Those of us who dedicate ourselves to the executive protectionFor many years, we have come to hear about several cases in which armed protection agents inside armored vehicles, when faced with an aggression and consequently entering a state of "super stress "*, draw their weapon and open fire, endangering all the occupants of the vehicle and weakening, in turn, the vehicle's armor.
One such case occurred a few years ago at a fair near Mexico City, where the protector, being harassed by a crowd, went into a state of high stress and fired his weapon inside the armored unit. Unfortunately, as with most of the phenomena that occur in the executive protectionThese cases have also been anecdotal, poorly documented and, therefore, of little credibility. Many colleagues commented that the protagonists of these incidents have not been trained; that they are improvised people, inexperienced in risk situations; that this whole phenomenon is not worthy of study and that having firearms in armored vehicles is perfectly safe.
However, the unfortunate attack against the Secretary of Citizen Security of Mexico City, Omar García Harfuch, which occurred in 2020, came to break many concepts that we had taken for granted in the protection executiveAmong them, the concept of the weapons inside the armored units. According to the testimony given by the Secretary to the media, it was he himself who tried to repel the aggression from his armored unit: "García Harfuch assured Latinus that he tried to shoot at his attackers; however, since it was an armored vehicle, his bullets were trapped in the windshield "**.
Omar Garcia Harfuch is a career police officer with an extensive background, excellent training and proven combat experience, so we could not say that the action taken was due to lack of training or experience, but to the psychophysiological limits that the human being has when entering in extreme situations, in which the reaction (or non-reaction) can be as surprising as unpredictable, regardless of the experience or previous training of the agent. This is why the tendency of the protection agent, under high stress, to increase the risk, shooting inside the armored unit, has been called "the Harfuch effect", for being the most documented and most representative case of this phenomenon in the protection executive.
We can see that the most emblematic methods and tools in the executive protection They "work" as long as nothing happens, but when they are put to the test in real situations, such as those we are experiencing in Latin America, they not only prove to be of little use, but also dangerous.
No tool in the executive protectionThe application of the measures, including the weapon, cannot be applied by default, nor by corporate policies, as it may increase the risks. In each case, a careful study including several factors ("the Harfuch effect" included) must be applied to determine the application of the right measures at the right times and in the right places. Only in this way can we make the executive protection to be a safer profession for both protectees and protectors.
*International Foundation for Protection Officers.
Protection Officers Training Manual Seventh Edition. IFPO