What will you learn if you train with us?
Extract from The Definitive Guide to Next Generation Close Protection
I struggle these days to remember where I have acquired all this valuable information that has enable me to put together this pre-course study manual, but I give tribute to James Brown, Robin Barratt, Peter Constantine, Laurens Jacobs, Ami Toben and many others whose literature works have all contributed massively to the development of this learning aid.
As James Brown once said, just turning up to a Close Protection course and expecting to be turned into a Bodyguard just by paying a fee is quite impossible as even the very best instructors need people made of the ‘right stuff’ to start with.
While many people are able to learn the basics, not everyone can apply themselves to the demanding role of Close Protection. True, many skills can be learnt, practiced and honed to perfection, but the candidate should turn up with some essential skills such as a good brain with lots of common sense, a professional attitude and great communication skills along with having a good appearance and confidence. He or she will be a team player, punctual and above all someone who can be trusted.
These attributes really are the pre-requisites in addition to having a clean criminal record and good references. In the UK, most of Europe and in many states of the USA you will not be licensed to operate if you have a criminal record.
A good brain with lots of common sense
For most of the time, a Close Protection Operative has to ‘think on his feet’ and make decisions based upon information that he is continually and constantly analysing. At the same time, he must at all times provide the very best protection to his Principal. He does this by applying skills that he has been taught, but, and it’s a big but, he or she also has to apply copious amounts of common sense to the problems of the day and unfortunately no one can teach common sense.
Either you have it, or you haven’t. Anyone who is a bit slow and not razor sharp in their thinking is never going to be a good Close Protection Operative no matter how much training they have had. The best Bodyguards will also develop a sort of sixth sense making them able to foresee problems long before they occur.
A professional attitude
A good Close Protection Operative displays a good attitude towards others. He is never too important to speak to the lowlier members of the team, even the toilet cleaner, while he’s in the hotel. Whole operations have come undone because the CP team has breezed into a hotel giving it the big ‘I am’ and giving no one any respect or courtesy.
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Don’t be the one that thinks that the more important the VIP the more important and puffed up the security can become, alienating the very people that can help them do their job such as house cleaners who will go out of their way to clean or indeed not clean rooms outside of their normal schedules.
They may allow you to enter areas such as laundry rooms or similar, providing you with better surveillance and security for your Principal. They may do this because of the relationship that a good attitude builds whereas talking down to them or displaying a superior attitude will not help your case.
Security officers often perceived as “lower ranks” and managers in a hotel will bend over backwards, giving you not only additional and valuable manpower or camera monitoring, but the building and area knowledge that they have taken months to learn.
A bad attitude displayed towards these guys and girls will deny you this valuable resource. The hotel security will resent you and make your job as difficult as they can. If the doorman or concierge respect and like you, then they can be a great help. If they think that you are an ‘arsehole’, then favours like parking permits will not be available, no matter how important your Principal is.
The head waiter can do you and your Principal lots of favours, serving you quickly and looking after the rest of the team. So, you can see that even in a hotel the attitude displayed by the team is of immeasurable importance. An old saying goes something like this: “Try to treat others as you would have them treat you.” I would like to offer the following saying: “A good Close Protection Operative treats everyone that he meets with genuine courtesy and respect and as a possible resource.”
One of the most important skills, the one that lets many would-be Bodyguards down badly, and is so completely fundamental to our role that its importance cannot be over emphasised, and that skill is communication.
The Close Protection Operative has to have complete mastery of communication skills as they have to be able to communicate in many different ways and at all levels. I have seen many people who thought that they were born to be Bodyguards; guys who were masters of this or that martial art, having spent their whole life in either the dojo or the gym.
They thought that they only had to turn up for a couple of weeks and then pick up a certificate, making them a Close Protection expert. These same people, some of whom looked as though they were incapable of being scared of anything, froze when asked to stand up at the front of the class and introduce themselves to the rest of the candidates.
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Maybe they thought that throughout their Close Protection career they would be the ‘strong and silent type’, having no idea of the importance of communication skills in this industry. When these people are told quietly during the first tea break that they are wasting their time and are being sent home, more than one of them has been stuck for words and tried to resort to violence. This, of course, reinforces our point!
Introduction to Close Protection
Those that have read the Bodyguards Bible published by James Brown in 2011 will know that many people, if you asked them to describe a Bodyguard, will conjure up an image of that large gorilla/gangster like character, with fat fingers festooned with heavy gold rings. An intimidating figure that speaks in words of one syllable, clearing people out of the path of his client with a grunt and an elbow rather than an ‘excuse me’, and looking like he couldn’t run twenty yards without stopping to catch breath.
In addition, many people think that the security they see at music or boxing events are Bodyguards. They may well be trained in crowd management functions and may work part time as bouncers in bars and clubs, but they are not Bodyguards. Others might think that Bodyguards are secret service types in expensive suits with gadgets and guns galore. They would also be wrong. The reasons for people having these popular misconceptions are not hard to find. The heavies employed in advertising, exhibitions and soap style television are purposely easy to spot. Their already high profile is often over emphasized.
The man in the street sees real Bodyguards working every day, though may not realize it. Seeing them is one thing but realizing that they are security professionals is another. They are seen, but not noticed because they strive to maintain a low profile. Not only do they look normal, their suit fits, and their knuckles don’t drag along the ground.
Professional bodyguards go unnoticed until they need to be noticed.
Because people generally expect the gorilla type of Bodyguard, it is not uncommon for professional Close Protection Operatives to be told “you’re too nice, too small, too tall, too short, or even too pretty to be a Bodyguard”. Very often, the Bodyguard blends into the background of his client’s business and social schedule, and he is always trying not to draw any undue attention to himself or his client. Being of normal build and stature can help in this situation.
Sometimes, a low profile is not what is required and big menacing guys (and a few girls) whose presence screams, “Do not mess with me or mine” are the order of the day, though these people too are professionals and with intelligence to match their stature.
So, who are these modern Bodyguards that we generally do not notice, and what makes them so special? The twenty first century Bodyguard is often found in smart but neutrally toned attire, presenting a discreet and subdued image to the outside world.
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He is a highly skilled and motivated individual, constantly assessing potential risks and weighing these against his skills and the measures he must take to minimize them. He is fit, not overweight, and an expert in first aid, firefighting, defensive driving, weapon systems, unarmed combat and communication skills.
One could be forgiven for thinking that there are jobs everywhere for this new breed of Bodyguard and everyone who is only a little bit rich or famous uses them. The truth is that there are not enough good Bodyguard jobs out there for all the “Bodyguards” that want to be one and disappointingly there are not enough ‘good’ Bodyguards out there for all the jobs that need doing.
It is rare for a team leader of a CP operation to be one hundred percent happy with all of his team; there are always members that are close to losing their jobs. The team leader is always getting rid of poor performers and people who do not ‘gel’ with the team, or at least confining them to night shifts ‘in the garden’.
So, if you don't want this to be you, then make the most of this course. When you’re done then you can decide whether you know it all and don’t need any further training; and while you’re at it get used to the idea of eventually being overlooked by prospective employers. Or you can be smart and invest in your career with continued professional development.
Continued Professional Development (CPD) is the only way forward.
The Bodyguard is concerned with all aspects of security throughout his working day. By contrast, his client will hardly devote any time to security at all. At the highest level, the client is at best only dimly aware that the service is being provided, let alone that they are the entire focus of it. Flexibility and quick thinking, along with good advance work and lots of common sense all play their part.
There is something about the way a good Bodyguard will position himself, his presence, his demeanour, the eye contact and positive movement, these are all extremely reassuring to his client. Clients that are confident in the ability of the Bodyguard are a pleasure to work with. A professional relationship develops and both Bodyguard and client go about their business, neither interfering with the other’s function.
They become a team!
In an ideal situation, whether working ‘one on one’ or as part of a team, everyone will be at the right place at the right time. No one will ever lose the keys to the client’s car; the car will never break down; it won’t rain when you’ve forgotten the umbrella and the Principal won’t oversleep. You’ll never get lost on-route; you’ll never get unexpected visitors; hit fog when you’re late.
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The hotel will always be expecting you; your driver won’t oversleep; you’ll always have the right map; the radio range will be miles; you’ll never bleed on your clean shirt and the Principal will never change his mind. The plane won’t be early or late; you’ll eat three meals a day; border security won’t stop the team; they’ll wave the Principal through and you’ll always know what’s happening next.
I doubt it, though ideal situations do happen, and not by accident either. They must be made to happen. A Bodyguard makes good things happen and stops bad things happening.
Even with the best planning things can go wrong, and it is the mark of a good Bodyguard that he keeps a level head in a crisis, reassesses the situation and then embarks on the correct next course of action. It’s not easy but that’s what the training is for; and every assignment that you will complete builds experience and confidence until getting it right becomes the norm.
Who would want to use the services of a Bodyguard?
People who are rich can worry that others might steal their riches from them, kidnap their loved ones for ransom, or attack them out of jealousy. They may well think that they need a Bodyguard to allay their fears. But you do need to be rich to employ full time Bodyguards.
If a client wants just one person 24/7, this equates to two or three men working shifts. This is going to cost a considerable sum even if they are filthy rich. To use a whole team of security personnel, it can be a small fortune. So, the Bodyguard might well be a necessity, but he could also be described as a ‘luxury item’ that only a few can afford.
There is a bit of irony here: the rich and famous feel that they need Bodyguards because they are rich and famous, but it is only they that can afford them anyway
The main function of a Bodyguard is in essence quite simple. He or she is hired to defend his or her Principal(s) from all forms of attack, on them, their loved ones and their property. He or she is also expected to deal with accidents and emergencies.
The role of a Bodyguard or “Close Protection Operative” as we are often referred to these days is to ensure that the Principal can get on with his life without worrying too much about their security. If only it were that simple.
It must be said that there are vast numbers of extremely rich and sometimes famous people who never feel the need to employ Bodyguards. They get by with the judicious use of locks, alarms and copious amounts of common sense. Most of these people live long and happy lives, never regretting the decision not to employ a Bodyguard. In contrast, there are others who have used Bodyguards most of their lives.
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They may have had a Bodyguard with them on their very first trip to nursery school and cannot imagine going through life without a person nearby to protect them. They can be utterly dependent on a Bodyguard for every security related aspect of their lives.
Some people employ Bodyguards for no other reason than it’s fashionable to do so, and the more Bodyguards they have, somehow makes them appear more important. In some circles, a large Bodyguard team can be as impressive a success symbol as the £200,000 car that only gets used to go to the odd party, or the yacht that only gets used for three weeks a year.
This type of Principal can be a pain, because you really are a ‘designer accessory’ rather than the security professional you aspire to be. But the money is good and, if you don’t mind carrying the odd bag or walking the dog, the job is as secure as they come. What’s more, because the risks are slight, there are no shortages of takers for this type of position.
Some users of Close Protection have a very real (or sometimes imagined) reason for protection. They see the use of a Bodyguard as an absolute necessity (sometimes a necessary evil). Moreover, they take you and their security very seriously. This type of Principal is employing protection for all the right reasons. Apart from the obvious risk to you when working with a client with ‘real’ threats present, this is the very best type of Principal to work for.
They are of course other users. There are those that have protection thrust upon them; sometimes it is not the end user that is paying for it and in some cases, they would rather not have it at all. Generally, this type of Principal is, for example, sons, daughters and wives. Another group is company executives or representatives, where the company perceives a threat and pays for the protection. Depending upon the threat, this type of protective effort may be very welcome or frowned upon by the one being protected.
As a private Close Protection Operative you will not be involved with public figures that require protection such as members of government. This protection is more often than not provided by the State. There may be some overlap from time to time and private contractors might find themselves helping on the fringes of what is clearly a government area of responsibility.
Once anyone who feels threatened has experienced the services of a good protection team then they are very reluctant to dismiss it and go unprotected.
It’s like a belief in ‘Sod’s Law’. (Anything that can go wrong will do so.) The day that the protection is not there, will be the very day that they really need it. It’s unfortunate for the Bodyguard when a Principal starts to think (even for a moment) that he can do without the protection. He might be reluctant to dismiss the team in case he needs them for some unseen or unanticipated danger, but this is where the rot can set in.
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The Principal may start to ignore some or all of the advice you give him; he may start to resent the inconvenience of having a Bodyguard with him 24 hours a day; he may start leaving you or your team behind when doing things which he considers are ‘safe’; he may start cutting down on team numbers or not renewing security equipment.
Then there follows the danger that the Principal decides to ‘get his money’s worth ‘from the team and starts putting them to work in other areas such as in the garden. This is very short sighted on the part of the Principal and it makes no sense to employ a well trained professional Bodyguard to do anything other than be a Bodyguard.
At this point, the Bodyguard has to make some decisions. It’s not an issue of dignity rather it is one of function. A Bodyguard is employed on the calculated assumption that his services as a Bodyguard will be at some time needed. ‘Sod’s Law’ will again dictate that when you are needed you will be walking the dog or collecting some groceries, instead of being alongside the person you have been paid all this time to protect.
There are many different users of protection, just as there are many different types of Bodyguards. Between the extremes of being a fashion accessory to a superstar or working with very real threats in a war zone there is plenty of work for professional Close Protection Operatives.
Once you are working your employer must be made acutely aware of your function; to him it may appear that you are doing nothing all day long. You must educate your Principal as to what your function is. To do your job properly you must have the trust and complete cooperation of your Principal or you may as well not be there.
Communicating with your Principal is of extreme importance. He or she is paying for the kind of protection that will enable them to go about their business and social schedules with the confidence that you are doing your job and with as little inconvenience to them as possible.
During the course of reading this pre-course study manual, you will often see the term “client”, when referring to your Principal, so let me explain the fundamental differences.
He or she is your “Client” if paying the bill and your “Principal” if the one being looked after. Sometimes they do overlap.
Most of what you have read so far has been previously articulated by James Brown to whom all professional bodyguards and those up and coming in the close protection industry owe a debt of gratitude for his sterling effort to set things straight and provide a learned overview which is what you are going to experience next.
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Being an expert in security and security systems is how a Close Protection Operative earns a living, but ‘personal security’ has nothing to do with making a living; it’s about ‘living’ and about how . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .