The mainstream perception of a “bodyguard” is most likely the opposite of what you really need. The vocational name is “Executive Protection” or “Personal Security” and specialists are not hard to find. Follow these guidelines to ensure you’re getting someone truly qualified to protect another person’s life and well-being.
Steps for the Search
- Always keep in mind that Personal Security is a professional service, so keep your expectations realistic. Look for Executive Protection specialists who, like the Secret Service, are proactive, clean cut, intelligent, articulate, educated professionals. Contrast these specialists with the stereotypical 400 pound thugs working for Britney Spears or Madonna. These “bodyguards” are usually working as bouncers or bounty hunters and “sidelining” as a Bodyguard and generally lack specialized training.
- Look on the Internet for your state’s private security company regulations and learn the name of the required license for Bodyguard or Personal Protection Officer or something closely related. The candidates will need this license in order to work for you. That said, do not assume that a “Bodyguard” license from any state is in and of itself a good indicator. These licenses have names like Personal Protection Officer (PPO) or Personal Protection Specialist (PPS) and are probably required for the individual to work for you but most are acquired with very little training that anyone can get if they have a “Security Guard” license and $100 to pay for the course.
- Ensure your candidates are graduates of a Government Protective Services or Executive Protection course from United States Secret Service, US Dept. of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), US Army Military Police School (USAMPS), US Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID), US Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), US Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI), British Special Air Service (SAS) or graduates from one of the few, recognized and respected civilian executive protection schools like ESI, Kobetz (Executive Protection Int’l), R.L. Oatman, Vance Int’l, The Steele Foundation,Gavin de Becker or National Protective Services. As a second choice, consider Executive Protection/Protective Services/Corporate Security personnel from a Fortune 500 corporation like Microsoft, Dell, Boeing, IBM, etc., with direct (not limited or collateral) experience. Furthermore, there is a university that specializes in Personal Protection Management and offers degrees on Bachelors, Master’s and Doctorate level( See Henley-Putnam University). Just because someone has been in the military or law enforcement, does not mean they have the right mind-set, training or skills to perform protection services.
- Get a photocopy of the applicants driver’s license, Social Security card and copies of any professional certificates.
- Conduct a background check on the web and pay for a simple criminal history check.
- Have every candidate sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement before discussing your needs.
- Look for specific experience, and ask for examples of how the candidate has demonstrated proficiency in skills including, but not limited to, the following:nn* choreography and posture (knowing how to stand, walk and get out of a car with a principal)n* conducting advance work to prepare for trips and events ahead of timen* effective countermeasures to deal with an attack or security threat when it materializesn* Knowledge of electronic alarm and access control systemsn* training on specialized driving skillsn* firearms training.
- Ask the candidate about people they have protected in the past . If they gives you a list of names, those names would likely be okay. However if one starts revealing personal information it is possible that they are violating non-disclosure and confidentiality statements they agreed to. At the same time, do not accept the response “I can’t tell you for reasons of privacy.” Good bodyguards are very careful about divulging information about former clients or protects, and will find a way for you to verify their claims without violating confidentiality agreements.