Executive Protection Academy

Executive Protection Academy

The seams and the Dakota Street bombing: another call to change executive protection.

Executive protection is probably the only profession that continues to be practiced without change, despite its failure to meet its objectives virtually every time it is put to the test. What is most unfortunate is that this failure involves the loss of lives of both executives and bodyguards, and even innocent citizens who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Given this situation, one might wonder if it takes a major incident to make both users and managers understand that executive protection is not simply hiring a couple of armed agents, but represents a complete system of planning and logistics whose purpose is to reduce the executive's exposure to risk and intercept an aggression in its preparation phase. By the time the attack comes, it is too late.

Another unfortunate example of the failure of traditional executive protection occurred last Friday, January 22, in Mexico City, when businessman Martín Rodríguez Sánchez, president of the International Council of Businessmen (Coine), was murdered along with his bodyguard as he left a gymnasium in the Nápoles neighborhood. The attack was carried out with firearms by two individuals on board a motorcycle. A passerby was also injured.

As in other cases we have recently analyzed, the counter-surveillance and early warning procedures were not applied. Evidently, the aggression fulfilled all the phases we have described in previous articles: gathering information about the victim, prolonged hostile surveillance and waiting in the nearby place before the attack. It is obvious that the assailants knew the businessman's routine, his schedule and the places of greatest opportunity for an aggression. The executive did not have a security system that could detect and stop the attack in time while it was being prepared, and, as is almost always the case, unfortunately, it could not be repelled in its execution phase.


It should be noted that, in these cases, it is not the escort who is responsible for the failure, because, in reality, there is not much he can do. Those responsible are those who run the operation, as well as the user himself, for not knowing and not knowing how to implement an adequate system to reduce risks and defuse attacks in advance through counter-surveillance and early warning.

However, in this particular case, we will point out another concept of utmost importance, the so-called seams.

In the jargon of executive protection, we call seams the exposures to risk of the executive at the moment of changing from one controlled environment to another; for example, when leaving a place to enter the vehicle. A significant number of attacks, robberies and kidnappings occur precisely at the seams. For this reason, executive protection professionals do everything possible to reduce or eliminate these types of hazards.

The initial safety study should point out each of the seams; explain the concept to the protected person himself in order to, together (he and his protectors), carry out the pertinent actions that will lead to reduce this type of exposure. For example, if going to the gym involves constant and routine exposure to the street, the best thing to do, together with the executive, is to look for a training place where the seam can be cut, i.e. to go directly through a well-guarded and previously checked parking lot. Of course, this does not totally eliminate the risk, but it significantly reduces it. This concept is explained extensively in the book Executive Protection in the 21st Century: The New Doctrine.

For us it is clear: in modern executive protection the user has an active role in his own security; he cannot assume that all he needs is just an escort who automatically follows him everywhere.

An armored car would be of no use if the executive is exposed every day at the same time when walking down the street from his office or gym to the vehicle. Executive protection involves reducing the executive's exposure to risk through planning and logistics, not playing the old West and expecting to solve everything through a gun battle.

There is an urgent need for a change in the operational structure of this profession and the involvement of security administrators, as well as the users themselves, in order to save the lives of both the protected persons and escorts as well as the lives of citizens.