Terror attacks in the US, terrorist bombings in the UK, and kidnappings in South America have focused a spotlight on executive/celebrity close protection, both here and abroad. But more often, it’s a political activist, an overzealous fan or a disgruntled ex-employee trying to force his way into the CEO office. It’s more often these “less than headline grabbing problems” close protection deals with.
Are you considering a job in the fast growing Close Protection Bodyguard field? Or perhaps you are considering hiring a Close Protection Specialist. ESS Global would like to give you an inside look at Executive Protection.
ESS Global Corp is one of just a handful of Close Protection Schools nationwide that are Department of Education certified and licensed and is the only Close Protection School licensed by the State of Florida. ESS is also one of the nation’s largest Close Protection Service Agencies with active agents in cities across the country.
We thought we would take a moment, track down CEO Theo Billiris and look “behind the curtain” and answer some of the more common questions both our students and clients ask us, and share this with you.
An Inside Look at Executive Protection
- What is the very first step in executive/close protection?
Get licensed in the state in which you reside and get certified at a reputable Executive Protection School. Licensed schools, such as ESS, are preferred as both our students and our clients can rest easy in knowing that the school has been and continues to be monitored and regulated by the D.O.E. On top of that, all instructors and curriculums are evaluated yearly.
- What are the advantages of having a personal bodyguard? Why do celebrities and top business or political icons keep bodyguards?
Protection obviously, but even more so, convenience and making life easy. Example: when you have an Executive Protection agent, they take care of all planning on trips. Choosing hotels, restaurants, etc. and perform all security checks at those places. Then, when you arrive, you don’t have to worry about checking in or waiting for service. It’s already done. You don’t have to worry about how to get from place to place. The route recon is already complete. You just sit back and enjoy the trip. Leave the details to us.
- What is the client expectation vs real life?
Well the biggest thing is they believe that when they have you, they can go and do “whatever” and expect that nothing will happen to them. The best clients understand that we are there to keep them safe, which sometimes means heeding our advice/threat assessments and not going to some places they want to go.
Also, we often see that since nothing bad happens they start to think they don’t need us. The only reason nothing bad happens is because of what we do that they don’t see. Successful Close Protection leans strongly on threat assessments and security advances that they never witness.
- Are there “cardinal rules” to follow?
Confidentiality. The best Close Protection Agents never become too familiar or comfortable – always remember they are client, not a friend.
- Describe a “Typical Assignment”
Every assignment starts with a client interview/profiling. We learn about the client and their expectations. Next, we conduct a security advance of where we will be going. This includes site surveys and threat assessments of all places we will visit on the trip. We also conduct route recon on all possible routes between venues. Lastly, putting everything we learned from our advance team and putting it into play on the day of the detail. On that day we will protect the client and create an experience for them that was easy and relaxed.
- What are the little things that make a difference?
At ESS Global, it’s our attention to detail. It’s important to really know your client, and that comes from our experience in the initial interview and our “Client Profile” setup. Do they like a certain drink or snack and having that in the vehicle or hotel room before they enter. Also, learning to remain professional and staying composed even if the client acts irrationally or becomes angry with you. Actually, that’s a big thing.
- Do you use surveillance equipment?
Yes we do. For obvious reasons, we need to be discrete here, but yes, we use state of the art surveillance and tracking devices. It also gets more complicated when we are contracted with protecting the family. Sadly, sometimes the best and easiest target is a family member.
- Do you carry weapons all the time?
No, we are only armed when requested by our client. It’s really quite different than it’s portrayed in the media.
- What sets ESS apart from the rest?
It’s the fact that we are a D.O.E. licensed school as well and have the ability to choose the best students for employment because we are able to assess them through the schooling process. Most other companies who hire from other “trainers” don’t get to assess them until they are working. This can obviously become a liability.
- Lastly, was there ever a time when quick thinking saved the day?
Everyday! Clients change their minds by the minute. You really have to be able to think dynamically in the moment. There is always a solution. There is always somebody that knows how to get what your client wants. “No” or “I can’t” is never an option.
There is a Difference
Theo Billiris CEO of ESS Global Corp: “We find that most of executive protection companies send out an off-duty policeman with a gun. What you need to understand is if there was some sort of semi-planned attack, these guys would be of no value, or worse, dead. There was no recon, no planning, no preparation, no game plan in place, just an off-duty cop and a gun. That’s really not Executive Protection, it’s an off-duty officer. There is a big difference.”
Executive Close Protection has changed over the last 10-15 years. Agents are smarter and much more professional in contrast to the stereotypical 300 pound man with the mind and intellect of a child. ESS agents have been D.O.E. trained and continue to train as they perfect their craft. Our agents come from vast backgrounds such as Military, Law Enforcement, Government Agencies and Executive Protection schools just to name a few. With this array of various backgrounds, we are able to put together protection teams that will fit and fulfill your specific security need.
ESS Global Corp is headquartered in Tampa, Florida. D.O.E Executive Protection Classes are also offered throughout the year in Tampa and as far away as Los Angeles. If you are looking to change careers and be the best and train with the best, we’d love to talk.
If you’re considering hiring an EP agent give us a call. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.