Executive Protection: Having – Wanting – Needing?
On November 22, 2013 the United
States marked the 50th anniversary of the assignation of John F.
Kennedy. 50 years later there still remain unanswered questions regarding the
circumstances surrounding this event. Without a doubt this was one of the
darkest moments in America’s history and certainly the Secret Service will have
this cloud hang over them perhaps for as long as time exists. This Department
of the United States Treasury has the sole responsibility for the protection of
‘POTUS’ or rather President of the United States. So when Kennedy was killed
they failed, plain and simple. But like most things in life smaller and perhaps
insignificant failures and alternative agendas and priorities usually lead to disasters
and failures of such magnitude.
Enter December 9, 2013, and we
have the home invasion and robbery of the Philip Davis the ‘Acting’ Prime
Minister on Monday past. Perhaps this comparison may be seen as overreaching, but
our chief executive officer was held up and robbed at gunpoint. If this does not
equate to a potential disastrous impact on our country, then here in lies the
problem with security as a whole; which is that we do understand our assets,
thus we do not put in place adequate preventative and protection measures. Forget the fact that Prime Minister Christie
was out of country, Mr. Davis, at that time was the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth
of the Bahamas.
These events in my opinion are
an ‘F’ grade for the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Security Intelligence
Branch (SIB) charged with protection duties, and certainly the Commissioner of
Police. No one likes a failing grade; it makes us uncomfortable and perhaps
offended. Well get over it! Ego’s come
and go but the Bahamas is here to stay and the office of the Prime Minister is too
important a role to let personalities impact what is necessary. These temperaments,
be they police or the individual holding the office must appreciate the significance
of what they represent. It is not about what you like and what you want, it is
about proactive security in a hostile and violent Bahamas. It is about
protecting the reputation and sovereignty of a country. When we consider what
could have happened, we thank God for these sometime painful lessons.
Never the less, this is crucial
opportunity for the assessment process I mentioned in last week’s column, where
I asked what is working and what is not. The police SIB should be doing an in-depth
review of policy, practices, and procedures, which go way beyond more armed guards.
Contrary to popular belief a man with a gun is not the end of it all. Kennedy’s
assignation and the robbery of Davis, suggest that a well thought out personal
protection or dignitary protection process requires trained and skilled
personnel, not your everyday police officer. It demands standards and practices
that cannot be overridden by personal agendas and preferences. Obama’s then
White House Staff of 2009, may have suggest that he walk a few hundred feet
during his first inauguration parade, but the Secret Service approved it and
selected the exact location and time when he and his wife would get out of the
car and when they would get back in.
When reviewing the events leading
up to the tragic events of Kennedy’s death the Warren Commission revealed
numerous laps in security and procedure. Everything from the route selection, position
of protection agents to the vehicle used for the motorcade, exposed poor
planning and even worst made the President a sitting duck. Regardless of who
did what and authorized changes the burden of the failure lies in the hands of
the Secret Service.
The question I am asking myself
is, if the Prime Minister is seen as a possible target then what of presidents
and CEO of local business. Is the assumption that because these persons are
seen driving fancy cars and out to dinner at high end restaurants, suggest they
have cash on them or access to the same. Perhaps a closer inspection is now also required
by the corporate security manager who is charged with the responsibility of
protecting the companies Chief Executive Officer in a now clearly violent
Some suggestions have already
been alluded to in this article for example the fact a senior member of government
was assaulted indicates the climate which we now live in, and demands a review
of your current protection program. Also, the fact that the person assigned to
protection duties must be able to do more than fight and shoot a gun. They must be intelligent, know first aid and be
an excellent communicator.
A real question to ask yourself
is, are you gambling with the safety of your president, have you considered
what possible events exists and what mitigation strategies are in place. Really
and truly, every attack cannot not be stopped, but a proper preparation and
response plan will ensure that in many instances simple yet effective recovery
options are available. For example what are phone numbers of your principal’s
best friend or neighbor, or what is their blood type, do they have allergies? What
about GPS Tracking or worst case scenario can you evacuate you president or
managing director and family out of the country at a moment’s notice.
Next to individual preference and
dislikes by the executive member, is the cost involved in implementing and
managing a substantial security initiative. Security as many an accountant
would tell you is not revenue generating, so that initiative which is costing
several thousand dollars a month appear to be money down the drain. However,
like insurance which I am sure many of us invest into yearly, when you need it,
it is good to have.
These are real considerations for
not only security leadership but also for every executive in the Bahamas in
2013, if not for your own reasons for that of the company that you lead. Consider
the impact your absence would have on the continuity and resumption of
operations. This is mature and
responsible leadership. Going, going, and perhaps not gone yet, are the days of
the sleepy and tranquil island life we are so desperate to hold on to. But the
times around us suggest a different reality.
Gamal Newry is the president of Preventative Measures, loss prevention
and asset protection training and consulting company, specializing in policy
and procedure development, business security reviews and audits, and emergency
and crisis management. Comments can be sent to PO Box N-3154 Nassau, Bahamas,
or e-mail email@example.com or visit us at www.preventativemeasures.org
The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his/her
private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of