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Executive Protection Academy

Executive Protection Academy

When executive protection becomes lethal: The case of businessman David Gonzalez and the need to reformulate protection services.

The businessman's murder David Gonzalez or how the risk of a watch becomes the risk of losing one's life

On Monday, April 10, in broad daylight, in a cafeteria in the tourist area of Tulum in Mexico, David González Cuéllar, a businessman from Monterrey, was murdered when his bodyguard used his firearm to defend him from assailants who wanted to rob him of his luxury Rolex watch.

This unfortunate example shows that the indiscriminate implementation of firearms in executive protection often significantly elevates risks rather than reducing them. In this case, the initial risk of losing a watch turned into the loss of the executive's life. It is also reminiscent of the tragedy of Mexican businessman Adolfo Lagos, who was killed in a shootout when his bodyguards tried to save him from being robbed of his bicycle.

Protection services are contracted to reduce risks and save lives, but in practice, as we can see, the opposite is often the case. This is due to a great lack of knowledge on the part of all those involved, but mainly by the users of the service. Executives often believe that by having an armed escort, all their security problems magically disappear without the need for any further protective measures or precautions. Likewise, there are still many security consultants and managers who think along very similar lines.

I have heard various arguments that weapons are used in 98% of attacks on executives, so their implementation is indispensable in protection tasks. This is obviously false. The fact that firearms are very effective for attack does not mean that they are effective for defense, as we saw in this unfortunate example. Also, in a historical analysis of 125 cases of attacks on prominent public figures over the past 123 years in 60 countries, firearms were effective in only 4,03% of the cases.

Also the famous saying applied as an argument referring to the weapon: "it is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it" is refuted in this case, since the first problem is to really know when the use of the weapon is needed and when it is not. If David Gonzalez's protector had not had or attempted to use his weapon under these conditions, the outcome would most likely have been less tragic.

Having armed escorts as the only measure of protection has proven to be ineffective and dangerous. In the last 9 months in Mexico alone, 7 executives and 8 of their escorts were murdered.

Carlos Bildmart, Salvador Llamas, Sully Ponce, Gabriela Sanchez, Fernando Urbano Castillo, Jesus Alberto Navarro and David Gonzalez Cuellar are the names that make up the tragic and alarming list of executive protection users who lost their lives since last August in Mexico, along with eight of our colleagues.

To prevent this list from becoming even longer, we must reformulate executive protection services, starting with intense and constant training of the users, i.e., executives and their families. We must also update and reinforce the training of security advisors and managers in the field of executive protection, as they are the key factors in the implementation of these services. Executive protection must adopt new forms, methods and tools and cease to be identified only with armed escorts.

Finally, it is important to stress once again that we are not against the use of weapons in our profession, but against their indiscriminate use and as the only resource. If weapons are implemented in an operation, it will depend on a careful study in each case to determine whether they are necessary, whether they reduce or increase the risks in each particular case and what would be the protocols for their application in each specific operation.

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