Last week, I polled several online groups for their requests on what type of post they would like to see. Based on the responses, the most frequent was ‘working details in a solo capacity.’ Below are some important considerations that will dramatically increase your ability in providing smooth, unobtrusive and effective protective services while working alone.
“Some insight as to working as a solo agent would be helpful.” – Art Dorst
Flow of Information One of the most important considerations in working ANY detail is the flow of information from client to agent. Especially situations while working alone, the most effective way of staying informed on the day to day schedule is to be added (as a read-only) to the client’s schedule, particularly the schedule his/her personal assistant (PA) manages for him/her. I have found this to be most effective as it does not require constant direct communication, such as text or calls with the PA, you are simply alerted to any changes. If the schedule is modified with location detail, a tap could even begin turn-by-turn directions, for example.
“Not sure if you have written about this in the past but I have been giving some thought to the importance of EP agents forming relationships with the personal assistant of the principal. They are generally a wealth of knowledge and can give clear insight into the likes and more importantly dislikes of the person being protected. Relationships and learning how to navigate them is critically important and perhaps a topic worth talking about on one of the many forums.” – Shawn Chuipek
Regardless of who you have to talk to for information, establish a seamless, effortless and preferably redundant method of getting the information you need in order to enable your functions, such as advance coordination and route planning, etc.
Use of Technology Whenever Possible
Technology must be utilized in order to fill the gaps in the functions you cannot perform while working alone. The most common use of technology I find myself relying on is the use of Google Maps. For example, if the client’s schedule changes abruptly…or the client wants a coffee all of the sudden…I can quickly and easily obtain situational awareness of the site through my mobile device. Below are some images of a location I briefed in a similar discussion in our recent 7 Day Executive Protection Training Program in Miami. In this discussion during our practical application exercise, I (as the principal) became compulsive and wanted a Dunkin Donuts coffee. The students were left scrambling to find a location and perform their subsequent functions and gather site intel. As I demonstrated in the class, this can quickly be done through apps such as Google Maps and Sygic GPS Navigation (which uses Google Maps imagery in addition to their proprietary maps) – you can dictate in what you are looking for and you get a street-view, aerial map view and directions (with multiple options in most cases.)
The street-view is very effective when determining suitability (if it is a nice enough place where your client would want to go) and also considerations for drop-off/pick-up and parking.
Additionally, you can consider secondary drop-off/pick-up points, etc.
The aerial map view offers surrounding situational awareness, which enables multiple ingress/egress avenues, delay routes, easy access from a side street versus main street access, as well as catching features and guiding features to ensure your guidance. The additional information you get from searching a location on Google Maps is also useful – such as a contact phone number (to see if they have your principal’s favorite coffee available or to make a connection with on-site security, etc.), store hours, sharing capability, etc.
Mindset The mindset of a solo protector is probably one of the most important factors which enables effective protection. Especially when working alone, the protector must stay two steps ahead mentally, anticipating events and prioritizing tasks by importance and their potentiality of occurrence. The solo protector accomplishes this task by leveraging technology as discussed but also on site personnel. One of the largest learning points for our students is this – in most locations, there are responsible individuals who have a vested interest in the security and safety of your principal, and this can be leveraged.
“I am responsible for all coordination and advance work and as a law enforcement officer I have little to no issues at all when it comes to getting support and coordinating with local police departments, event managers, hotel managers and etc. In the private industry does it get more complicated when it comes to conducting the advance and setting up arrivals and departures, securing vehicle staging areas, and getting “special” treatment from hotels and event venues, or does it all depend on the client?” – Michael Scott Romney
Leverage Motivations to Elicit Support
For example, a security director at a hotel must ensure the safety and security of his patrons, so how can you utilize or leverage this? Individuals are either risk or reward motivated. Contact the security manager/director and have a brief discussion, identifying early on if they are mature and competent enough to handle the information and tasks you are about to present as well as get a feel for his motivation – does he want to help to be potentially rewarded (a tip or perhaps a good word into his boss, etc.) or is he motivated by risk (he wants to help so he doesn’t get in trouble or perhaps his hotel gets a bad reputation for celebrities being glitter bombed, etc.) Figure out their motivation and leverage it with your request, wording your tasking statement in a way that will invoke the most participation possible.
For those interested in training opportunities specialized for solo practitioners, consider VDI’s Best Practices for the Solo Practitioner
Joseph M. LaSorsa, CPP® is currently employed as a senior partner managing and conducting: Protective Operations Training Courses, Executive Protection & Bodyguard Services, Risk Management Consultations & Seminars, Workplace Violence Prevention Seminars & Intervention Services, Security Consultations & Seminars, Private Investigations and Technical Surveillance Counter-Measures with LaSorsa & Associates – an International Protection, Investigations & Consulting Firm.