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Out of harm's way.

CAN YOU GUARANTEE THE SECURITY of a company executive? Sure you can. Simply place the individual in a cement cube with six-ft.-thick walls. Don't let anyone have access to him or her. Don't allow the individual to eat, drink, or receive gifts. Don't provide air conditioning, heat, furniture, electricity, or clothing. By doing so, the individual cannot be shot, poisoned, electrocuted, or injured accidentally.

Denying access to everything, therefore, is the solution. Denying access, of course, is also impossible except in an ideal situation. The solution to effective executive protection lies in controlling access. Security personnel must work within constraints and boundaries to control access as best as they can.

Providing personal security means protecting an executive from all harm. Protection is usually provided to prevent the following four main hazards:

* Intentional injury. Preventing assaults by assassins, terrorists, kidnappers, or mentally unstable people is obvious. These people intend to kill or harm executives.

* Unintentional injury. Security should not overlook everyday hazards or situations that can injure or kill executives. Car accidents, food poisonings, electrocutions, drownings, or falls can occur if security personnel do not identify hazardous conditions.

* Kidnappings. Kidnappers usually want a ransom. If they do demand a ransom, they are less likely to kill an executive, because if they do, they know obtaining their money will be difficult.

Also, family members are often the target of kidnappers. Therefore, the security department should take them into account. If a family member is abducted, an executive may become as ineffective to the company as if he or she were the one kidnapped.

* Embarrassment. Embarrassment and injury often go hand in hand. If the executive is a popular target of the press, any mistake he or she makes is potential front-page news. While in such situations the security department's primary concern is to prevent injury, it must also anticipate and eliminate or reduce situations that may embarrass an executive.

A direct relationship exists between an executive's level of activity and the chances of being harmed. An executive who is constantly on the move is at greater risk than the one who has limited travel and associations. At the upper end of this scale is the politician who is constantly traveling, attending meetings, dinners, and other functions, and meeting with a great many people.

At the other end of the scale is a protected witness who wants nothing more than to save his or her hide and will do anything to avoid injury. This individual will wear a protective vest, stay indoors 24 hours a day, allow security with him or her day and night, and change his or her name. By taking those precautions, the individual is reducing the exposure to as many hazards as possible.

The average business executive falls somewhere in the middle of the scale. Social and public activities are intermingled with personal and private activities. The risk for harm varies. Although the need for protection is always there, the intensity of the protection is not consistent.

Security personnel should keep in mind the history of kidnappings and assassinations. Kidnappers and assassins follow and study movements and habits of executives, waiting for the most opportune time to act. When these individuals do strike, it will be at a time when they deem security to be less of a risk. It will be a time when security personnel are the least attentive.

Security's rapport with the executive is important. The better the rapport, the easier it will be to provide protection. If the executive doesn't like having security personnel around but accepts them because the company insists, security efforts will be severely hampered. A professional respect must be developed between the security personnel and the executive being protected. Rarely will the muscle-bound, gorilla, or gestapo images find acceptance in the executive protection field.

Since complete safety cannot be guaranteed to an executive, security personnel should consider their efforts as a percentage game. Every effort they take to reduce risks is one more percentage point toward achieving a more secure environment. The goal is to limit the executive's exposure to harmful situations and control the environment into which the executive goes. A 100 percent secure environment is impossible.

Allowing the executive to enter a location unfamiliar to security is sometimes unavoidable. However, the executive should understand the dangers of such situations.

Other areas that can contribute to reducing risks are commonsense applications, such as developing a working relationship with local police to keep advised of activity that might create an unfavorable atmosphere in an area your executive is traveling.

Security personnel must know the executive thoroughly. They should know the individual's likes and dislikes, personal and professional associates, health problems, places frequented, and anything else that may predict the executive's behavior.

Security personnel who are selected to protect an executive should be intelligent, fit into the executive's environment, remain flexible, and use common sense. They must understand the importance of teamwork and apply their security efforts firmly and politely.

A common fault of many security personnel is failing to recognize the swiftness with which an event can take place and that even a moment's distraction can be fatal.

Security personnel should regularly study and review past assassination attempts and accidents. Seeing films or reenacting these kinds of events will make them more aware of the speed of such occurrences and more alert when they are working. As a result, security will be better able to anticipate events and reduce the chances of such events occurring.

Regardless of personnel or financial support available, total security of an executive cannot be guaranteed. But every effort made, no matter how seemingly unimportant at the time, contributes to a more secure environment for that executive. About the Author . . . J. Branch Walton is director of corporate security for Cummins Engine Company in Columbus, IN. Walton recently retired from the US Secret Service where he served last as special agent in charge of the Springfield, IL, office. He is an ASIS member.
COPYRIGHT 1990 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Executive Protection
Author:Walton, J. Branch
Publication:Security Management
Date:Jun 1, 1990
Words:996
Previous Article:Breaking the connection.
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