Deterrence, undoubtedly, was one of the pillars of the executive protection traditional. Guns, patrols and numerous intimidating agents were intended to discourage any hostile individuals or groups that might pose a threat to the protégé. However, like most of the measures previously used in our profession, this too was overestimated. It should be made clear that no one questions that deterrence has its advantages, but, in our work today, it has at least three major problems:
1. Limited, questionable and difficult to quantify. In the words of Olivera Ćirković, ex-member of the famous international band the Pink PanthersIn Colombia, deterrence may discourage petty criminals, but not organized and well-structured groups, if they consider the target worth the risk. Eighteen armed bodyguards failed to deter the gunmen and prevent the assassination of Luis Carlos Galán, Colombia's presidential candidate. Similarly, the entire U.S. Secret Service failed to deter John Hinckley from making an attempt on Ronald Reagan's life, just as Israeli security did not deter Yigal Amir from assassinating Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. So not only organized groups; determined individuals are not always deterred by the spectacle of deterrence.
2. The image of the executive in the digital era. The digital revolution and the growing influence of social networks made today's executives begin to reject the classic paraphernalia of agents in suits with dark glasses and threatening attitude to protect their image in an increasingly horizontal society. What was once a status symbol has now become one of bad taste.
3. It is not a financially smart concept. To deter more than the "common" pedestrian assailant, a robust system of at least two or more people, weapons, patrols and specific equipment is required, which implies a high cost, but, as we have already said, its scope is very limited and difficult to quantify. If to this we add the fact that the weapons and the reaction in the executive protection have a range of only 5 % in real conditions, using this type of measure has a disadvantage when considering its cost/benefit, so more and more executives are rejecting its implementation.
Of course, whether to use deterrence or not, and to what extent, depends on a case-specific risk study. Here, in general terms, we want to point out the advantages and disadvantages of such a concept to help practitioners design their operations. However, techniques such as intelligence, counter-surveillance and early warning will always be much more effective, more discreet and, of course, more economical solutions.