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Executive Protection Institute

Executive Protection Institute

Is it necessary to have been a military or police officer to work in Executive Protection?

Not only in Mexico or Latin America, but practically all over the world, having been a police officer, military or marine, is considered a desirable or even indispensable requirement to exercise Executive Protection. Many security companies, and also some international corporations, tend to give preference to this type of candidate. This idiosyncrasy is already part of popular culture. The synopses of several Hollywood movies and series, whose main characters are "bodyguards", generally point out that the heroes of their stories were war veterans, special forces, marines or New York police officers, among others. As a result, it seems totally normal, and even desirable, to any employer, that the candidate sought should have that backgroundThe company must be able to perform the tasks within the Executive Protection.

However, this idea is not correct. Work within the military or police has little to do with the job skills required in Executive Protection. Of course, this does not mean that both military and police training are not useful for a protector. Certainly, it is of importance, especially for values such as discipline and loyalty, but it does not imply that by this fact alone the person will have all the skills necessary to perform the escort position he or she is applying for. An example of this is the testimony of many military colleagues who, after a long military career, join the ranks of the Executive Protection. In particular, I have worked and interviewed many of them, and all of them, without exception, have confirmed to me that their work as a private protector bears little resemblance to the experience within the military; moreover, they had to go through a long and not easy period of adaptation to their new job.

It is true that in the military or in the police force one learns the use of weapons, which is undoubtedly important, but we also know that the vast majority of protectors do not get into the situation of using them in their entire working life, especially if they do their job well; and if they do need them, in 95 % of the cases they will not be of much use, as the following study shows:

Executive protection and firearm use Study of a representative sample. 

Of course, this is not to say that these skills are not important, as the remaining 5 % represent lives saved, including one's own; however, they are not the deciding factors in our profession.

This training may even generate problems in the performance of our work, since the military doctrine is focused on war, confrontation and the use of weapons, while in the Executive Protection, we are precisely seeking to avoid these situations, where the risks for the user and the protector are enormous.

In many videos circulating in the networks, in which the escorts are repelling an assault, we can see their colleagues chasing and shooting at the assailants, seeking to eliminate or arrest them (which is typical of police or military work), while the protected, which should be the priority of a protector in any case, is left exposed at the scene of the aggression without being covered or evacuated.

We know of a case that occurred 20 years ago in Mexico City that is worth using as an example. The bodyguard of a very important person, while on duty, tried to thwart an assault against a passerby, which was not his responsibility, since the assault had nothing to do with his protégé, who was at peace in his home. In the unnecessary shooting, the bodyguard was wounded and miraculously survived, while the media speculated that the attack was aimed at this important person, thus generating image problems for the executive. All this was caused by the lack of adequate training of the protectors. The colleague did not understand that he was no longer a policeman and that an assault in the street was not his responsibility, nor did he understand the serious risks that such an action represented both for him and for his protégé, even if indirectly.

All these situations, together with other factors that we will not analyze here, cause Executive Protection to lack its own identity and structure, and it seems to depend on the particular points of view and training of the people who exercise it in one way or another.

Now, each protection officer comes to conceive of Executive Protection according to his or her previous training. We did a little experiment: three escorts were asked what they would do to improve a particular Executive Protection service where they were assigned. One of them was in the military, the other was a paramedic, and the third was a firefighter. The ex-military man felt that more weapons were needed; the ex-paramedic suggested improving the first aid kit and introducing first aid training, while the ex-firefighter suggested the need for better fire extinguishers in homes and vehicles.

The truth is that all three were probably right. The problem lies in the fact that none of them could see beyond their previous training, which limited them from having a comprehensive view of the needs of the service and ways to improve it. This is because Executive Protection has not yet developed an identity, a structure and a school of its own. Generally, it has been seen as a spin-off, a spin-off of the military or something that any police officer could perform. This situation led us to include for decades a training that had almost nothing to do with our activities, where skills were developed that included maneuvers, body and motorized acrobatics that the escorts never used in their work, while the required daily job skills were never mentioned. We explain this in detail in our book Executive Protection in the 21st Century: the New Doctrine.

It is time to establish Executive Protection as a profession whose method and doctrine come from an operational reality of its own, and not from the prejudices that come from other disciplines that are alien to it. A doctrine that promotes risk avoidance, early deactivation of threats and integrates the best of military, police and civilian intelligence training to create the protector of the future, capable of facing the challenges brought about by profound changes in an increasingly agitated society.

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