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The business of security, Part II: Bodyguard licensing and training requirements

The security business since 9/11 has been red hot. Executive protection (EP) in particular is a growing market. With terrorism on everyone's mind and well-paying jobs available in many of the trouble spots in the world, there has never been a better time to enter the EP field. However, the training and experience that many law enforcement or military personnel have does not necessarily qualify them to provide personal protection services.

In California, the laws, rules and regulations that apply to security guards apply to bodyguards as well. Security guards are now required to have 40 hours of mandated training and receive eight hours of continuing education annually.

Only a licensed private patrol operator (PPO) may contract to perform security guard or bodyguard services to any person or business. One must first have previous experience and pass a state test to qualify. An active duty peace officer with a guard card and an exposed firearm permit may perform armed security guard (bodyguard) duties ONLY as a security guard employee.

Taking the first step toward obtaining a private patrol operator's license will almost invariably guarantee the military person, or law enforcement officer-turned-bodyguard, a greater opportunity to make more money, have greater control over his work and eventually branch out into bigger and better things.

Though many law enforcement and/or military-related skills do transfer directly to the EP task (i.e. surveillance skills, knowledge of civil and criminal liability, risk analysis) as in other areas of security, executive protection is also an acquired skill. Law enforcement and military people would find themselves much more marketable with the proper kind of EP training.

The biggest myth about EP training for either security personnel or the law enforcement officer is that once you have attended an accredited EP school or seminar and the training is over, you now feel qualified for any assignment in any part of the world. This is far from the truth. As a matter of fact, initial EP training equates more closely to going out on patrol for the first time.

EP training is a really a way of life. To be successful in the arena of executive protection, you must adjust your lifestyle accordingly. This is especially true for the agents on "long term" protection detail. If you are not out there surveying driving routes, or thinking about how you would handle someone who will not take "no" for an answer, then your skills will begin to deteriorate.

EP training should have a main focus on advance work and a secondary focus on studying various types of threats and risks that are applicable to you or your client. This kind of study should be a constant habit when traveling or scheduling anything that involves you and your principal. A back up plan for the back up plan is always the best contingency.

To train in advance work is somewhat complicated. Advance work is the study of factual or estimated information and the activities or arrangements made as it pertains to the location of the arrival of a future client. Advance work takes time and must be done before the client is destined to a particular location. Doing it correctly is a tedious, even for the seasoned professional.

The fact that someone is physically familiar with the layout of the region he is working in does not necessarily mean he knows how to advance a location properly. Good customer service and social skills make it easier in collecting data and information that will be pertinent to the advance and the overall protection of the client. If you want to practice advance work, concentrate on being organized first.

One thing that should be required in any protection program is the study and exercise of martial arts training. Without focusing too much on the self-defense aspects of executive protection, martial arts training builds an inner peace that aids in emotion and action control - especially the actions of others who could be a physical threat.

Take your martial arts training further and apply it to close protection work. It does not matter how long you have trained or the art you know. The question is, can you apply your moves and techniques on an adversary while trying to manage your own fear and the location of someone you are protecting?

Remember that the protection agent who is 6'6,'' weighs 300 pounds and in excellent shape is useless if he does not know how to say please and thank you. You must be able to acknowledge mistakes and accept criticism. The real skills that matter most are manners, professionalism and mental awareness.

[Note: A special thanks to our instructor, Mr. Nathan Harrison, P.P.S., for his contributions to this article.]

Related Column:

The Business of Security Part I: How to Start & Manage Your Own Security Company

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