02 August 2008

People Risk: Protective Security Professionals...

How long does it take for a lethal attack to occur against an at-risk person? Just 2 Seconds is the latest book by Gavin De Becker. Along with his long time colleagues Tom Taylor and Jeff Marquart they document how to use time and space to defeat adversaries.

There are some compelling insights gained from their research:

  • In the US, attacks are most likely to be undertaken by lone assailants 87% vs. outside the US where attacks are typically the work of multiple assailants 71%.
  • Attacks in the US are about as likely indoors (53%) vs. outdoors (47%)
  • However, 64% of attacks happen when the protected person is in or around the car and 77% of these attacks are successful.

Most of these happen within a distance of 25 feet or less using a handgun. Corporate executives and their Protective Security Detail (PSD) already know these statistics and have trained together for these increasing risks. Many have adopted the LADDER model from Gavin de Becker & Associates training academy:


The study of the motives and the psychology of why these actors pick their targets and choose the time and place has become a science. The methods and tools to assist corporate security in predictive analytics requires a substantial baseline of historical data and real-world experience. Over 20 years ago Gavin and his team developed the MOSAIC Threat Assessment system. It is now in use with dozens of police and government agencies to help authorities and Protective Security Details to be more proactive and preemptive.

Protective Security Specialist's today are certified professionals utilizing intelligence in combination with the attributes of Time, Mind and Space to provide safe and secure travel for their clients. The science and the art have converged to provide a fusion of data, strategy and ad hoc tactics to ensure the mission is completed without incident. As one example, in the state of Virginia, their training is extensive and encompasses a rigid certification process that begins with:

  1. Administration and Personal Protection Orientation - 3 hours

  2. Applicable Sections of the Code of Virginia and DCJS Regulations - 1 hour

  3. Assessment of Threat and Protectee Vulnerability - 8 hours

  4. Legal Authority and Civil Law - 8 hours

  5. Protective Detail Operations - 28 hours

  6. Emergency Procedures - 12 hours
    • CPR
    • Emergency First Aid
    • Defensive Preparedness

  7. Performance Evaluation - Five Practical Exercises

Golden Seal Enterprises is just one of the certified training schools providing the core and advanced work for becoming a PSS professional in Virginia:

Course Description: Using proven protective detail models, from the real world experience of GSE’s cadre of EP, PSD and PPS Instructors students will learn to use a pro-active process to prevent threats while maintaining the ability to use reactive skills when a threat is present. This is designed to enable students to operate in self-supporting details but will also encompass interfacing with other details, law enforcement, and other security personnel.

Graduates will be able to provide a secure environment for a client through identifying and controlling potential risks while the client is on foot, in a vehicle, or within a structure in dynamic situations. Graduates will also learn procedures to control the effects of unusual incidents in a professional manner to maintain the client's safety and image and a consistent proper working relationship with the client, client's family, and staff. The course content includes classes and discussions as applied to permissive and semi-permissive environments. Includes VA DCJS 32E certification.

Topics Covered: Protective Operations, Terminology, Case Studies, Advances, Detail Organization, Formations, Route Surveys, Surveillance Detection, Communication & Equipment, Transportation, Vehicle Dynamics, Evasive Maneuvers, Motorcades, Vehicle Search, Technical Security, Details Abroad, Protective Detail Firearms, Assassinations, First Responder Medicine, CPR & AED Certifications and Defensive Tactics.

The profession doesn't stop there. Some risk management firms who have these certified individuals on staff go much further in their training and their vetting of employees. We agree and recommend that you add these questions to your due diligence when obtaining Request for Proposals:

  • Review all policy documents the firm has their personnel sign to become a PSS on staff.
  • Review the firms hiring process and the prerequisites to join the firm.
  • Review the operational standards and operating procedures to ensure 24 x 7 x 365 capabilities.
  • Review the 3rd party agreements that encompass any transportation and private aviation suppliers (Netjets)
  • Review the firms technology and communications infrastructure including radios, information systems security controls and privacy countermeasures.

The profession has come a long way and people like Gavin de Becker & Associates have established the baseline for others to compete. High net worth individuals, movie stars, public officials and corporate executives have much at stake and require comprehensive strategy execution.

Think of every assassination you've ever heard about. For most people, a few of these major ones come to mind: Caesar, Abraham Lincoln, John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Anwar Sadat, John Lennon, Israel’s Prime Minister Rabin, Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto.

From start to finish, all of these attacks — combined — took place in less than one minute. And the hundreds of attacks studied for this book, all of them combined, took place in less than a half-hour. Those thirty minutes, surely the most influential in world history, offer important insights that can help today’s protectors defeat tomorrow’s attackers.

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