From Secret Service to Sunshine State

From Secret Service to Sunshine State
March 08, 2004 By: Neil Reisner

Joe LaSorsa doesn’t need references to convince potential clients that he can protect them.

His I-hide-my-eyes-behind-sunglasses-and-I-probably-take-no-prisoners gaze is likely enough.

But then there are his references.

Former Presidents Reagan, Ford and the Bush’s, for example, whom LaSorsa protected during his 20-year career with the U.S. Secret Service, three of them on the elite Presidential Detail.

If LaSorsa, 50, could protect the likes of them, he reasoned, then the less prominent but more wealthy clientele he hoped to cultivate would believe he could protect them, too, and buy what he wanted to sell – safe rooms, fortress-like refuges supplied with food, water, electricity and communications that can cost upward of $100,000, into which residents of a home under attack by robbers, kidnappers or other bad guys can retreat while summoning help.

LaSorsa teamed up initially with Donald O’Neill, who operated the Orca Fund, a hedge fund based in Fort Lauderdale, but backed quickly away after becoming suspicious that all might be on the up-and-up. His instincts proved sound when O’Neill was indicted on multiple counts of mail and wire fraud and money laundering.

The former secret service agent of presidential protection, who has 29 years in the security industry altogether, quickly regrouped, took out a home equity loan and in May 2002 opened J.A. LaSorsa & Associates in an office around the back of a two-story professional building on a nondescript stretch of Federal Highway in Pompano Beach.

“I believe South Florida has a tremendous market of those individuals who have a need for a high-end security consultant,” said LaSorsa, who cuts an imposing figure at 5 feet, 11 inches and 210 pounds. “The number of super wealthy snowbirds is incredible.”

A top South Florida security consultant agreed.

“If he has knowledge that sets him aside from other people and he can develop a good following of individuals who are in need of that kind of protection, I think he will be very successful,” said former Broward Sheriff Nick Navarro, now head of Fort Lauderdale-based Navarro Security.

“The product he’s selling is himself. If he can market himself, it will be a good thing for him,” Navarro said, remarking that a security company founded two decades ago in Virginia by former presidential guard Chuck Vance sold last year for a reported $67 million.

It’s not LaSorsa’s first try at going solo.

His first shot came in 1998, two years after he retired from the Secret Service, when he opened a security consultancy in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where he then lived with his wife and three sons. But there wasn’t a lot of demand for what he had to offer, even in a place where well-heeled socialites descend for the summer horse racing and concert season.

The family relocated to South Florida the following year. After stints directing security at two local corporations, he decided to try again. This, despite the fact that the region is already home to about than 900 private investigation agencies and 3,600 licensed private investigators, according to state records.

After nearly two years, things are going pretty well, LaSorsa said, and getting better. Last fall, with some $60,000 invested, he was netting between $4,000 and $5,000 monthly from fees ranging between $75 and $150 an hour plus expenses. That covered the nut and has allowed him to start drawing a salary.

More recently things have gone even better. He now projects a 2004 net between $75,000 and $100,000.

Still, not everything has worked out as planned.

Demand for safe rooms was low despite heightened security concerns in the aftermath of Sept. 11. LaSorsa believes that’s in part because nothing’s happened in South Florida to make those at risk believe they need security and in part because the faltering economy makes even people with money reluctant to spend what they have, especially given that 24/7 security on just one person can cost upwards of $1 million annually.

“The 9-11 attack placed a lot of focus on home and personal security. But not a lot of people building rooms,” he said, seated at a desk surrounded by memorabilia from presidential trips – the 1985 Summit of Industrialized Nations in Geneva, the London Economic Conference in 1991 and the bus tour Bill Clinton took after snagging the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992. “People with big money are being very judicious. I think it’s a mistake, because they’re still very wealthy. They are public figures in one way or another and need to be concerned about their security and their family’s security.”

But with flexibility born of long training to deal with the unexpected, LaSorsa adjusted his business plan mid-course. Safe room design and construction remain among LaSorsa’s services, but he’s added a menu of other offerings, including vulnerability assessments; residential, yacht and business security systems; bodyguard protection at home and while traveling; confidential investigations; and executive protection training seminars.

LaSorsa’s clients appear to be satisfied.

Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorney Gary Lazarus represents a teenage girl raped by a group of men who detailed autos at a Central Florida dealership in a suit charging the dealership and the men’s employer with negligence. He hired LaSorsa to analyze security at the crime site.

“I was impressed by his pedigree, specifically that he was on the personal security detail for President Reagan,” said Lazarus, adding that LaSorsa was able to find witnesses other investigators couldn’t and that he now uses the former agent regularly. “He’s an expert witness who can testify as to the foreseeability of a crime at a particular location.”

LaSorsa said that other clients – he keeps their names confidential for obvious reasons – have retained him to develop corporate security plans, guard executive offices after potentially disruptive personnel moves, investigate potentially bogus workers’ compensation claims, find embezzlers and convince them to return the money they stole and even to design the occasional safe room – three in South Florida and one in upstate New York.

And he’s promoting a solar-powered wireless security system that can be quickly installed to protect the perimeter of an estate or a docked yacht.

Promoting yacht security, of course, means attracting the kind of clients who own yachts and it’s to them that LaSorsa aims his marketing. He’s taken ads in magazines that cover life’s finer things for those who can afford them, including the DuPont Registry, Robb Report and Ocean Drive . And he’s sent direct mail pieces to every attorney in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

He’s even designed some security rooms, four modest installations in South Florida and one high-end under construction in upstate New York .

But LaSorsa is only beginning to capture that elusive high-end clientele he mapped his business plan to pursue.

He’s off this week to conduct three executive protection seminars in Australia that developed after a Melbourne man attended one of LaSorsa’s seminars here.

He’ll then spend a week at an undisclosed destination providing security for a vacationing international business consultant from Palm Beach County and his family.

“I’m not doing too much close-in security,” LaSorsa said. “I’m beginning to think that many people in this area still think that they’re not vulnerable.”

LaSorsa is convinced that’s flat-out wrong.

“The wealthier you are the more of a target you are,” he said, predicting that world crackdowns on terrorist finances may spark the kind of kidnappings-for-ransom South American rebel groups use to fund their activities. “It’s not only going to be international terrorism coming to the shores of the U.S. I see the foreign kidnapping plague becoming a U.S. plague.”

Neil Reisner can be reached at nreisner@floridabiz.com or at (305) 347-6611.

School Security – Schools Weigh Safety Efforts

By RICK KARLIN , Staff writer
First published: Thursday, April 22, 1999

Schools weigh safety efforts
Although crisis tactics are taught, some doubt the possibility of preventing a Colorado-type shooting.

Go to a typical Capital Region high school and you’ll likely see administrators with cell phones in their pockets and crisis management guides on their bookshelves.

Like school officials throughout the nation, educators here have been on edge since last year’s spate of massacres. There have been “armed intruder drills” and workshops on how to spot potential mass killers and avert tragedies. Some schools have secret code words given to teachers in the event of a “lockdown,” when students are to be kept in their classrooms.

“We are all very frightened about guns, and if we hear things, we are pretty much on top of that,” said Kathryn Martin, a social worker with the Capital Region BOCES, who helps offer safety and anti-violence training. But all the drills and caution in the world can’t really prepare people for the kind of tragedy that took place Tuesday in Littleton , Colo. , when two youths tore through Columbine High School on a shooting and bombing spree that left 15 dead, including the killers.

The incident marked the eighth time since October 1997 that U.S. youths had taken up arms against classmates and teachers.

If Tuesday’s killings carried one lesson, local educators say, it’s that schools should never, ever, assume that “it can’t happen here.” “We try to prepare, but there is no way you can really prepare for these tragedies,” Martin said.

“There is no way of getting away from these things. These are social issues that pervade the entire country,” said Blaise Salerno, superintendent of the Guilderland school district.

Moreover, despite the heightened vigilance that has taken hold during the last year, security experts and psychologists alike are wondering if schools are doing all they can to prevent similar catastrophes in the future.

“We’re too complacent, as a society, as a whole,” said Joe La Sorsa, a security consultant and former Secret Service agent in Saratoga County . La Sorsa last winter met with a group of school superintendents in the Glens Falls area to discuss security measures they could take beyond the basics, such as hall monitors and video cameras.

Among his suggestions: Pay close attention to behavior patterns by kids that could signal potential violence, such as killing animals, constant talk of racial hatred or wearing military garb.

The school officials, La Sorsa recalled, seemed concerned, but they explained that taking such measures can spark lawsuits and other administrative problems. Many of the educators complained that their hands were tied by rules and procedures designed to protect the rights of students.

“If they ask too many questions, it’s opening up a Pandora’s box,” La Sorsa said.

The fact is, spotting potential mass killers simply isn’t the top priority at most school districts, said Theodore Feinberg, North Colonie ‘s senior school psychologist, who chairs an emergency assistance team of experts who help people deal with mass tragedies.

Gov. George Pataki has started a school violence task force, and there have been numerous calls from teachers unions and others for tougher laws on school discipline. Mayor Jerry Jennings on Wednesday announced the establishment of an Albany Fund for Safe Schools/Safe Communities, which will initially be used to help Littleton in some way, though Jennings said he hopes it will be an continuing resource to support youth violence prevention programs in schools, community centers and day care centers throughout the Capital Region.

But paying close attention to all of the students, all of the time, in a given school is a tall order. Nor are schools the only place where such problems need to be addressed.

“It’s not just a school problem,” said Dave Ernst, spokesman for the New York State School Boards Association. “It’s a community problem, it’s a family problem and it’s a law enforcement problem.”

“There is no safety zone,” added Feinberg.

Contributions to the Albany Fund for Safe Schools/Safe Communities can be sent to Key Bank at 60 State Street , Albany 12207, or deposited at any Key Bank branch.

Copyright 1999, Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation, Albany, N.Y. The information you receive online from Times Union is protected by the copyright laws of the United States. The copyright laws prohibit any copying, redistributing, retransmitting, or repurposing of any copyright-protected material.

The Case For Personal, Estate, and Corporate Security In Today’s World

by Joseph A. Lasorsa, CPP

When one considers the historical nature of security applications and programs of any type, i.e., CCTV, intrusion detection and alarm systems, corporate policies and programs and countermeasures of any type, the phenomenon of the Denial Syndrome, Complacency and Failure to properly allocate a Security Budget can not be over emphasized. If we, as individuals, as a country and as a government, have not learned anything from the lessons of 911, it is the benefit of being pro-active and utilizing the concept of foreseeability.

No matter how, when or where, the denial syndrome is the one human response mechanism which can be most fatal in any security response program or effort. On too many occasions, individuals, whether VIP’s, corporate executives or the neighbor down the street will simply place their hand in the sand and resolve themselves stating to themselves “it won’t happen to me”.

I have had countless of clients respond to their threats whether due to a: stalker and/or threat from a disgruntled employee or corporate enemy, a Workplace Violence issue, internal thefts – both Estate and Corporate, security issues due to high profile or net worth, corporate espionage, marital disputes, etc., with the denial syndrome. Too many individuals simply feel that they can “safely play the percentages” and ignore the threat or the possible repercussions. The results of this type of complacency is too may times very costly and potentially, deadly.

Then of course, there is the individual or corporate executive who inevitably will analytically determine the ROI does not exist in consideration of the threat level. However, the individual almost unilaterally comes to this conclusion, completely ignoring and discounting the recommendations set forth subsequent to a properly conducted Vulnerability and Threat Assessment. This response is actually attributed to the “penny wise and pound foolish” attitude which is so common among many people.

Specifically, I would like to discuss “Child Abductions”, an aspect of life today, which has become such a serious issue and “threat” to us as individuals, families, and as a country and nation. We too many times turn on the evening news to hear of yet, another child being abducted. These predators have no conscience and seek out children, statistically between the ages of 10-12 but not limited to those ages, more times than not, a young girl and brutally sexually abuse and then murder them. The predator would more than likely prefer to abduct the older person, perhaps a 19 or 20 year old female. However, probably due to the greater degree of resistance and increased difficulty in being successful, the predators choose the younger victims.

It is in these instances that we sharply notice the denial syndrome, complacency and failure to properly budget security in operating in our lives. We plainly need to realize that we no longer live in a society that was as safe as when we grew up.

Today, due to many circumstances, one being the overcrowded criminal detention system and the pressures it places on the criminal justice system to plea bargain down felony crimes and another one being the past decades of budget cuts in state and municipal funding of Psychiatric Institutions has placed too many “psych” patients and “predatory criminals” out on the streets and living in our neighborhoods among us.

We, as parents and as a society in general, have to come to grips with the fact that we must be as pro-active. Simple mistakes such as allowing our children to ride their bikes alone, travel (walk) to a friend’s house or to school, unescorted can be fatal. We simply can’t allow small children to play unsupervised, in any environment, whether it be the driveway, backyard, park or school playground. Predators exist. They are out there, looking for the mistake

Being pro-active is critical. There are other steps parents can take, such as the use of a GPS watch or cellular phone. Obviously, the wealthier can utilize the services of an armed bodyguard, protection agent to escort their child, such as in the movie “Man On Fire”.

Given the nature of today’s occurrences, whatever the countermeasure taken, we can be assured, it probably rests within the parameters of sensibility.

Mr. LaSorsa manages J.A. LaSorsa & Associates, a South Florida based security consultancy and investigative firm, which provides professional services to Government, private and public corporations, legal and insurance firms and private citizens. These services include: asset and executive protection, corporate security and loss prevention, litigation support and expert testimony as it relates to premises liability, foreseeability, security negligence and security operations; technical security counter-measures, de-bugging, electronic sweep, anti-wiretapping, estate protection, safe rooms and security systems consulting, event and tour security, investigations and undercover operations, suspect interviews, surveillances, workplace & school violence intervention & consulting, residence security, threat and vulnerability assessments and developing/ implementing Crisis/Disaster and Business Continuity Management plans.

Joe has over twenty-nine years of experience in the Criminal Investigations, Executive Protection and the security field, which includes a twenty-year Federal Law Enforcement career as a Senior Special Agent with the United States Secret Service, having been assigned to the Presidential Protection Division, the White House.

For a free community service seminar on “Child Abduction Awareness”, J.A. LaSorsa & Associates can be contacted at: 954-783-5020 or via e-mail: jal@lasorsa.com or by visiting: www.lasorsa.com

What Is A Bodyguard? A Secret Service Agent Lookalike? A Goon?

What does one envision when thinking of a “bodyguard”? When one considers the historical image of a “bodyguard”, most people envision a large, tall, mean looking individual, capable of lifting you in one hand and tossing you across the room, seemingly without effort.

In today’s world, security professionals refer to “bodyguards”, our associates, as “executive protection specialists” or “EP agents”.

In terms of answering the first question, “What is a bodyguard”; let’s first ask the question: What is Executive Protection?

Executive Protection is the integration and deployment of physical & technical security measures and countermeasures to protect the life of the protectee (person protected) and/or corporate asset or property.

Executive protection is not simply the traditional image of a “goon” guarding a dignitary, V.I.P. or celebrity. The modern protection agent image is centered on:

  • a “non-confrontational, incident avoidance” professional.
  • the offensive, tactical, assault minded individual serves his/her purpose in a “compound” environment.
  • today’s executive protection specialist is trained to “cover and evacuate”.

large stature

• flashy clothes

• always armed – legal or not

• forceful & aggressive

• “gofer” or “lackey” role

• site protection only

• overuse of personnel

• not always trained or educated

• average height

• business dress

• armed when necessary

• diplomatic & flexible

• security professional

• 24/7 total protection

• technology used when possible

• educated & computer literate
The above comparison and/or delineation leads to an issue which is dear to my heart, because all too often in today’s business world, an unsuspecting client attempts to seek out a qualified professional and without knowing or realizing, the client calls on a firm or individual whom he or she has located through the yellow pages or internet, and winds up discussing their very serious issues with an individual directly from the above list: the past image of an Executive Protection Agent.

All too often today, alleged professionals emerge, almost on a daily basis, having received their state license or ‘no’ license at all and hang up ‘shingles’ and conduct business. In New York or Florida, for examples, the requirement for providing Executive Protection or bodyguard services is possession a Private Investigator’s license. There is no other training or experience required. This occurs all too often and these so called professionals present themselves as the Executive Protection expert “extraordinaire!

They forego any semblance of proper operational protocols such as ‘security advance work’ and usually without even conducting a proper threat or vulnerability assessment, offer to provide clients protective services and worse of all, at ‘cut’ rates.

They not only compromise the quality of service rendered the client, but they also dilute the profession, undermining the ‘qualified professionals’ out here and completely undermine the profession from a ‘business aspect’.

The bottom line is the unsuspecting client can’t understand why he or she is being quoted rates as low as $40 and as high as $200 per hour. Note: The truth be known, a client can easily procure services of a qualified professional for around $100-$125 per hour domestically and somewhat higher for international assignments.

The truth also be known, the majority of these ‘shingle hanging non-professionals’ couldn’t explain or expound on the essence of “Executive Protection, it’s procedures and concepts and probably do not know or understand the basic difference between a threat and vulnerability assessment.

Another untruth in this business is the belief that experience in the military, specifically, the ‘special ops’ experience, is critical to this field. This is so not true. Domestically, in the continental U.S., highly strategic, offensive combat experience is not the ‘end all’ and ‘be all’ when it comes to protective assignments. This experience, however, does have a seriously important role in some ‘very high risk’ environments, such as Colombia or Iraq, but the normal, routine, every day protective assignment is usually a ‘one man’ and sometimes a ‘two man detail’ and seldom more. In fact, this routine type protective assignment is usually nothing more than ‘armed escort’ without the luxury of advance security work.

Essentially, protective service without the use of the security advance is simply ‘armed escort’. In this scenario, the protectors, especially, the ‘shingle hanging non-professionals’ will be just as vulnerable to attack as the person protected.

Lastly, another point to mention and a sad point at that, is, these individuals’ incredible lack of understanding of the importance of attention to detail and in being prepared. If a protection agent abides by nothing else, he/she abides by the slogan, “failure to prepare is preparing to fail”. This mentality was constantly ingrained into the mindset of all Secret Service Agents and the result was evident in all aspects of operation.

So, in conclusion, as in most other consumer purchases, “the buyer must beware”. They should be diligent in their scrutiny of the ‘Protective Services’ provider. Prospective clients should take a close look at the principal behind the firm and look to see if the website offers BIO’s on any of the principals. In many instances, clients can not determine the background or credentials of the principal(s) behind the firm because the ‘page’ subject matter in “About us” is conveniently light or skirted altogether. There may be general statements about background, experience and credentials.

Mr. LaSorsa manages J.A. LaSorsa & Associates, a South Florida based security consultancy and investigative firm. He provides: asset and executive protection, corporate security consulting, expert testimony as it relates to premises liability & security negligence; anti-wiretapping, safe rooms & security systems consulting, event and tour security & investigations; workplace & school violence intervention, threat & vulnerability assessments. Joe has over twenty-nine years of experience in the Criminal Investigations, Executive Protection and the security field, which includes a twenty-year Federal Law Enforcement career as a Senior Special Agent with the United States Secret Service, having been assigned to the Presidential Protection Division, the White House.

Six Things You Need to Know About Executive Protection Services

Executive Protection Services

Shielding executives from threats is about brains, not brawn. Best practices from practitioners and the Secret Service show CSOs should rely on risk assessment, cost-benefit analysis and old-fashioned legwork.

Terrified, haggard and frostbitten, Karen McMullan refused to give police the details of her ordeal until she knew her husband Kevin was safe. Twenty-four hours earlier, men dressed as police officers had talked their way into the McMullan’s home. Once inside, they held a gun to the head of Kevin McMullan, the assistant bank manager for Northern Bank in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and explained that he would help them carry out a daring robbery. To ensure his cooperation, they kidnapped his wife.

If you are looking for executive protection services to protect yourself or your family, contact J.A. LaSorsa and Associates now!


At the same time just a few miles away, armed men entered the home of another bank employee, supervisor Chris Ward, and conscripted him into their plan by taking his mother, father, brother and brother’s girlfriend hostage. Per the kidnappers’ instructions, the next evening McMullan and Ward used their security passes to enter Northern Bank’s inner vault and packed up bags of banknotes. The cash was loaded into a white truck and driven away. Hours later, Karen McMullan staggered out of a Northern Ireland forest and into the first house she found.

Many companies pay lip service to the notion that employees are their most valuable assets, but few have actually done the math. In the case of Northern Bank, the use of the McMullan and Ward families in that December 2004 robbery cost approximately $50 million-and that is just the thieves’ take. Add to that the public relations costs (worldwide headlines, inquiries by prosecutors and British intelligence), and the tab runs considerably higher.

The threats facing an executive vary widely depending on the size of the company, the industry it belongs to and the individual executive’s profile. CSOs in oft-targeted sectors such as the financial services, pharmaceutical and energy industries, and those with executives based overseas, worry about kidnapping, carjacking, mail-borne explosives, biological agents and ecoterrorism. Threatening letters and e-mails and workplace violence fill out the list.

Given the range of risks involved, CSOs who have managed executive protection programs know that protecting an individual is a very different discipline from securing a facility. A top executive not only can’t be locked down but, unlike a building with a single gate, there are numerous ways for an attacker to get to an executive, including through family members, as in the Belfast example. Executives will also rebel against onerous security restrictions. CSOs face the challenge of calibrating protection that serves their company’s needs while also making that security palatable to the executives who have to live with it.

We spoke with security executives and protection specialists, including former and current agents from the U.S. Secret Service, and gleaned their advice on building an executive protection (EP) program. These tips apply whether you are spending millions to protect all your top executives or you hire the occasional security provider when your CEO travels. Following this advice can make an enormous difference in your executives’ safety-and transform the executives’ idea of personal protection from a barely tolerated hassle into a perk.

Tip #1 Ask questions early (and often)
Whether you are starting an EP program or just looking to tune up a preexisting plan, the first step CSOs should take is to conduct a thorough risk analysis. You need to identify the individuals who are critical to your organization, assess the impact to the corporation if they were lost and examine the risks that each of those people faces. Is there a history of threats against any of these individuals? Do they travel regularly to dangerous places? To what kinds of crimes or dangerous situations are they most vulnerable? Some executives keep a very low profile. Others, such as Donald Trump and Richard Branson, aggressively court media attention and risk attracting the notice of undesirables as well as fans.

Once you have determined the individuals who need protection, you need to know everything about their public and private lifestyles. This is called creating a “principal profile,” and it requires the executive’s full cooperation. You need to know everything about his work and home lives-everything from detailed information about his home, his family’s habits and any organizations and clubs he frequents. It’s also important to investigate how easy it is for outsiders to get information on your principal and his family.

Arnette Heintze, director of security with a Fortune 100 company and a retired U.S. Secret Service special agent in charge, advises doing a little online surfing. “Some companies are way too proud about putting everything they can about their executive and his family up on their website,” says Heintze. “If someone is stalking a certain CEO, he can find out a lot of information on the Web.” (If there is a lot there, the protection team needs to educate the marketing and communications staffs about what publicized personal details could put an executive at risk.)

Based on what the protection team learns about its subjects, CSOs will start to get a picture of what kinds of security measures you’ll need to take. Some companies find that their executives need very little protection. Others need a 24/7 command post set up in their home. You should also consider whether your industry has a standard for executive protection. Companies in high-risk industries might find that there are some common levels of protection used for their executives. For example, executives at large financial services companies might have panic alarms in their homes as a standard security protocol. Researching common protective measures in your industry can enable you to benefit from others’ experience.

Of course, none of this comes cheap. So it’s critical that you’re comfortable with your recommendations because you have to be able to justify them. “Security is always negotiated in the private sector,” says Joe Russo, the vice president of special operations with T&M Protection Resources in New York City, who spent 20 years with the U.S. Secret Service. “You have to be able to articulate why you are going with certain procedures and justify heavier doses of security. It’s big dollars, so they’re not going to take it lightly.”

For example, according to the Jan. 6, 2005, proxy statement that Disney filed to its shareholders, in 2004, Disney spent $716,335 on security advice and personnel for CEO Michael Eisner, and $18,663 on security systems and equipment for his safety. For COO Bob Iger, the company spent $471,646 on security advice and personnel and $2,470 on security systems.

It’s important to realize that risks are ever-changing. CSOs need to establish a baseline level of security for their executives that can be increased when warranted. “Good executive protection professionals understand the threat level and analyze it constantly,” says Tim Horner, associate managing director at security consulting behemoth Kroll. A CEO might get 25 threatening e-mails a week without the threat level spiking. But if a threatening letter is tucked under the front door of the CEO’s home, that signals someone is taking extra pains to deliver their venom, and security may need to be increased.

Tip #2 Ditch the bouncer
The term “executive protection professional” should tell you all you need to know about the evolution of executive security details. No-neck goons in black turtlenecks and lumpy suit jackets are fine if you want to hit a dance club with a posse, but they are not effective for executives. An effective EP program has to be based on research and preparation rather than sheer muscle.

“That’s the difference between a bodyguard and a protection professional: One specializes in muscles and has a gun, and the other may be less physically imposing but is better prepared to identify threats before they materialize,” says David Katz, president and CEO of the Global Security Group, which provides training and consulting for executive protection details.

Whether you are using proprietary staff or outsourcing, the CSO must ensure that protection professionals are properly trained, advises Heintze. They need to have experience in defensive driving, emergency medical training, the ability to defend against an attack on a principal, a conspicuous pride in staying fit, and the good judgment to assess threats and employ the appropriate countermeasures. Today’s protection professional also has to be a mirror image of his principal in professional dress and demeanor.

“You need to know how to walk, dress and talk like your executive,” says Ilan Caspi, executive vice president of the Global Security Group and a former member of Shin Bet, the Israeli counterintelligence and internal security service. Blending into the executive’s milieu is critical to ensuring his safety and minimizing the impact of a security detail on his daily life.

So who is the executive protection professional? “These men and women are educated, trainable, respectful and dedicated professionals,” says Robert L. Oatman. Oatman, author of a book on executive protection, founded R.L. Oatman & Associates, which specializes in executive protection operations and training. “They know how to blend into their environment and carry on an intelligent conversation, and they understand that they represent the executive.” Many companies hire former police officers, secret service agents and military officers to fill this role, but experts like Oatman point out that it’s also possible to find people within a corporate security organization who have the right character for the role. The physical skills necessary to do protection can be taught, but the dedication, discretion and integrity necessary to do the job well are often harder to find. “This job is not for everyone,” says Oatman.

Protection professionals have to be great communicators. They have to be able to establish a good rapport with their principal without getting too close. “You want to make sure that you keep everything on a professional keel,” says Tim Koerner, deputy assistant director in the office of protective operations for the U.S. Secret Service. “When you are in close proximity for a long period of time, people sometimes let down their guard and become more chummy. The best results are when things are utterly professional.”

The CSO’s role is to identify promising protection professionals (both within the company and outside of it), and to mentor them and make sure they receive the appropriate training. That training can include skills such as choreography (knowing how to stand, walk and get out of a car with a principal), conducting advance work to prepare for trips and events ahead of time, effective countermeasures to deal with an attack or security threat when it materializes, proficiency with home alarm and access control systems, familiarity with armored vehicles, and firearms training.

Tip #3 Make protection feel like a perk
Some people come into the protection business imagining they’ll be like Clint Eastwood, firing off magnum clips and cool one-liners in rapid succession. But opportunities for gun-play are hard to come by if the job is done well. In fact, the job can seem quite dull when success is measured by how uneventful the executive’s routine becomes. Nerdy as it may sound, good organizational abilities and excellent research skills will prevent the lion’s share of problems. These things also carry an ancillary benefit: helping an executive eliminate many of the usual annoyances of travel.

When an executive deviates from his routine in order to travel, the protection professional needs to be in a position to prevent a dangerous encounter rather than simply respond to it, says Koerner. Before attending an event, the protection professional should examine the principal’s travel logistics and create a contingency plan for every conceivable possibility. Without this kind of preparation, protection professionals could find themselves frozen by the onset of a medical situation or attack. “You know you have done a really good advance job if you are able to answer all the questions [about an event] that are asked of you,” says Koerner. It’s also easy to tell the protection professionals who have not done their homework. They’re the ones who are constantly standing within a foot of their principals. “By not having done the proper advance work, the untrained professional ends up smothering the CEO and destroying his credibility,” says Heintze.

Advance work is also more than preventing a planned attack. “A lot of times you don’t have to worry so much about kidnapping as you do regular criminal activity, car accidents and serious illness,” says Mark Cheviron, corporate vice president, corporate security and services of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). If an executive has a history of heart problems, facilitating a prompt EMT response might be the top priority for ensuring his health and safety. At ADM, corporate offices and planes are all equipped with defibrillators, and the company keeps track of critical health information-such as allergies and blood type-about its executives. When Caspi worked security for President Clinton’s visit to the Israeli embassy in Washington, he recalls one of the biggest concerns was that Clinton not trip on steep stairs.

Joe Russo spent the last 18 months of his Secret Service career heading up the security detail for former President Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton. Clinton’s postpresidential schedule had him visiting approximately 54 countries during that time. Without the phalanx of security that accompanies a sitting president, Russo’s advance work was critical.

For every Clinton event at home or abroad, Russo looked at the geographic location and purpose of the former president’s visit. Russo and the Secret Service’s Clinton Protective Division sent out security personnel in advance to lock down all the details of the president’s visit and hammered out a tight schedule that left little room for the unexpected. With Clinton, that was a particular challenge because “he would still attract crowds of thousands, most of whom had good intentions,” says Russo. “People wanted to touch him, grab him and hug him, and with fewer resources [than when he was in office] and unscreened crowds, that meant less control.” In those situations, Russo had to be extra vigilant about his advance work, directing the advance team to ensure that 10-foot buffer zones between Clinton and the crowd were preserved and that all pathways to vehicles and emergency exits were kept clear. In many countries, Russo worked closely with local law enforcement to beef up his security team, but that did not always run smoothly. At one event in Israel, the Israeli police officers tasked with maintaining a clear path to Clinton’s vehicle actually blocked his exit because they were all crowding in to try to shake his hand. This kind of incident occurred in several countries.

Good advance takes time; it could require three weeks to plan a five-day overseas trip. But it’s also an opportunity to make protection seem more of a perk than a pain for the principal by speeding things up. The protection professional is the CEO’s man Friday, doing all the grunt work ahead of time to ensure his experience is seamless. “If executive protection is done professionally and correctly, it can afford an executive an extra hour and a half to two hours a day,” says Oatman.

Tip #4 Stand tall in the face of resistance
When executives rebel against their protection-a fairly common phenomenon-it’s the CSO who has to make the case for security.

CSOs need to educate the executive about security recommendations while arguing for his buy-in. It can be helpful to use terms that the executive feels comfortable with, like cost-benefit and return on investment. It can also be effective to boil down the protection program’s efforts into a quarterly executive summary that lists the perceived threats and the steps taken to mitigate them. Robert Siciliano, a personal security expert who has advised British Petroleum and Best Western, refers to it as cultivating a “healthy paranoia” in your executive populace. “They should be aware of the risks they face and always informed of the worst-case scenarios.” The more that executives know about the role of their protection detail, the better they will understand their role in helping the protection professionals keep them safe.

Of course, executives can come to view these conversations about lurking dangers as scare tactics. That’s why it’s critical that the CSO and not the individual security provider manage this communication. “I wouldn’t try to talk my CEO into taking karate or judo,” says one security executive for a Fortune 50 company in the aerospace industry. “But I think it’s important that they’re aware or sensitive to what’s going on [within their peer group]. Threats or activity against other executives are a good opportunity to tweak them about security.” Also, CSOs should have answers ready for executives’ most common concerns about security in their lives. For example:

Can I trust them? In a culture where everyone seems to be angling for a book deal, top executives are loath to have a stranger listening to their phone calls and observing the details of their daily lives. Executives have to be able to rely on their discretion.

What about my personal life? Most executives want to leave their work at the office. If a security detail during off-hours is necessary, CSOs can minimize complaints by ensuring that the protection personnel keep a low profile. Video surveillance technology and alarm systems can keep the security professionals at a comfortable distance.

Will this slow me down? Executives concerned that security will be cumbersome can learn how the organizational prowess of their protection personnel can make everything run more smoothly.

Giving your executives a little training of their own can also make them better partners. Some take defensive driving courses and learn what to do if attacked by armed assailants, and what they should do if they are being watched. This might all sound very cloak and dagger, but Russo notes that these are not unheard-of occurrences in the business world. For example, a business competitor who was hoping to gather information about his daily meetings placed one of Russo’s executive clients under surveillance. Companies that are in litigation have used surveillance for intimidation purposes. If you get executives thinking about these kinds of situations and taking some ownership of their security, you’ll discover an enthusiastic partner. “When they start to see the benefits [of security], they start to like it,” says Caspi. “Eventually you get to the point where they can’t think how they would get along without security.”

Tip #5 Build a big Rolodex
Good information is the lifeblood of an EP program. It pays to work closely with executive assistants, hotel personnel and event organizers. But that’s only part of the information network a protection professional needs. Other important resources come from law enforcement and fellow security professionals.

When other executives gather for an event, it can be a good opportunity for security personnel to network as well. These connections can be helpful, but their cooperation depends on the protection professional’s powers of persuasion and pleasing. (It also pays to return their calls when they ask for advice.) “These people don’t owe you anything,” says Caspi. “They can help you if they want, but nobody will hold them accountable if they don’t. Fellow protection professionals can also provide a wealth of helpful information. When traveling abroad or to an unfamiliar city, the best information on where to go and which in-country security providers to trust will likely come from peers that have worked security in the area before.

Within the company, the EP professional’s network should include the executive assistants who manage the schedules and the HR managers who in many companies ensure that everyone who works in proximity with the top executives are screened and given background checks. But it should also include the security department. Often, executive protection operates outside the boundaries of the regular security department, but that is a mistake, says Oatman. The CSO is a critical advocate to an executive protection program, and EP should work closely with the CSO and his team to ensure a free flow of communication and to facilitate the acquisition of additional resources when necessary.

Tip #6 Don’t forget the spouse and kids
The most vulnerable people in the corporation are not the executives under the protection of corporate security, but their spouses and children who are far more accessible and are often left out of security planning. “The family should be a huge concern,” says Russo. “If someone has bad intentions and they recognize that an executive has 24-hour security at the office and when he travels, they’ll think of an easier way to get to them.”

Harming a spouse, child or another member of the executive’s family is an easier way to get to that executive compared with trying to harm an executive surrounded by a security detail. Oatman is familiar with a recent case where an individual was fired from his job and was really upset about it. “That employee’s son, who had a prior criminal conviction for assault, showed up at the CEO’s home and threatened retaliation against the executive,” says Oatman. The family called the police. Although no charges were pressed, the executive and his family lived with security for three months after that until the investigation was completed.

While a security detail at the executive’s home may not be necessary, the protection team should evaluate the principal’s home and examine whether family members should receive any training or additional protection. At ADM, Cheviron deals with everything from threats from disgruntled employees to the occasional crazed individual who reads something about ADM in a newspaper and goes on a crusade of harassment. The company supplies all its officers with a home alarm system that is monitored at the corporate office. He also considers options like home safe rooms where executives and their families can wait for police and fire assistance to arrive, and armored vehicles with trunks that contain a release in case the car is stolen and the executive is placed inside the trunk.

Sometimes the simplest steps can make a big difference to an executive’s security. Many companies provide excellent facility security but omit the basic precautions of conducting background checks on the employees that work in close proximity with the CEO. Some executives have buttoned-down security with an armed driver five days a week, but nothing on the weekends. Examine your security for these kinds of commonsense gaps. The benefits of nothing going wrong are worth the costs of safekeeping your company’s most valuable assets.

The Case For Growing Your Private Investigative – P.I., Security Or Executive Protection Business And Maximizing Profits

This article is intended to focus directly on the “struggling” P.I., Security or E.P. Business Entrepreneur.

If you see your business as ‘stagnant’ or ‘standing still’; or, if you don’t know when to raise your fees; or, you’re not sure on how and where to market; or you’re not sure as to how to acquire clients; or how to price services; how to deal with clients and customers; and, if you work ‘harder’ and not ‘smarter’……then, read on!

One of the more prolific and most dramatic problems facing this industry’s entrepreneur is transitioning from another field into this one, especially the former law enforcement officer or military personnel transition. Most individuals coming into these businesses are totally unprepared for the transition into the private sector and into the business world!

The majority of them may know how to conduct a criminal investigation or how to handle weapons and secure an installation, etc., but, they’re in a different world here! The private sector is a different animal!

Another issue is lack of proper Capital funding for the start-up business! This is probably the biggest reasons why (9) out of (10) start-up businesses in the U.S. fail every year!

Most start-up Entrepreneurs in our field lack:

• The appropriate Skill Sets and Knowledge Base!
• Knowledge of how to prepare a business plan!
• Business acumen!
• Business management skills!
• Marketing skills!
• Knowledge of industry verbiage!
• Knowledge of how to operate within a budget!
• Knowledge of how to price services!
• Knowledge of business record keeping practices!
• Knowing how to submit Proposals!
• Knowing how to close the deal!
• Knowing how and when to raise fees!
• Knowing when to keep a client and when to let go!
• Knowing how to maintain the proper image!
• Knowing that when times get tough – ‘you don’t sell the conference table!

If you’re interested in learning more and possibly growing your business and maximizing your profits, then contact me to discuss my programs re:
Coaching; Mentoring; or Situational Coaching Programs for Senior Corp Security Managers, Private Investigative Entrepreneur, & Security or Executive Protection Business Start-Up Firms

I can be reached as the telephone, e-mail and website.
Joseph A. LaSorsa, CPP

J.A. LaSorsa & Associates
1645 SE 3rd Court
Suite 102
Deerfield Beach, FL 33441-4465
954-783-5020 (24 hour contact)
e-mail: jal@lasorsa.com
Providing Global services: Security Expert Witness, Anti-Wiretap and Audio Countermeasures, Consulting, Investigative, Polygraph, Executive Protection Estate & Yacht Security Systems & Consulting, Workplace Violence Training & Intervention and Executive Protection Training.
South Florida – New York – Los Angeles
Specializing in Europe, Central and South America.
As Seen and Featured: CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Daily Business Journal; Millionaires, Robb Report, DuPont Registry Magazines

Private Investigation Firm

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Private Investigator Hired After Recent Fire

It is reported that the parents of one of the five people who died in a recent house fire in Rhode Island have asked a judge to allow a private investigator they have hired access to the property. They also requested the documents associated with the blaze and copies of the 911 recordings.

A lawyer is reported as saying that private investigations often differ in “scope” to public investigations. Fire officials are investigating the cause of the early morning fire they have said started in the space between the first-floor ceiling and the second floor. It could be weeks before a cause is determined, though they do not think the blaze was suspicious.

L’ex 007 di Reagan “Ecco i tre errori della sicurezza”

La Stampa
15/12/2009 – INTERVISTA
Maurizio Molinari

L’aggressione a Silvio Berlusconi è avvenuta perché il servizio di sicurezza ha commesso tre errori». Ad analizzare quanto avvenuto in piazza Duomo è Joseph LaSorsa, che era nel servizio segreto del presidente degli Stati Uniti ai tempi dell’attentato a Ronald Reagan ed oggi guida in Florida l’omonima agenzia di consulenza per la sicurezza.

Quali sono i tre errori?
«Il più grave è la carenza di controllo della folla che si trovava nella piazza. Quando un leader è in posti affollati devono esserci attorno a lui spazi e corridoi che consentono agli agenti di tenere a debita distanza le persone. Lì invece la gente era a ridosso del leader, quasi attaccata».

E il secondo?
«L’assenza di un percorso protetto verso l’auto del premier. Quando il presidente degli Stati Uniti si muove il servizio segreto sa che una delle maggiori vulnerabilità è nel momento in cui sale o scende dall’auto. Per proteggerlo si posiziona l’auto in un posto sicuro, come ad esempio dietro un palazzo o, meglio ancora, sotto un tendone per impedire alla gente di vedere dove si trova la macchina. Il presidente sale a bordo della limousine senza che nessuno possa vederlo. Quando si muove è già nell’auto».

Tanto il controllo della folla come la protezione dell’auto non possono comunque impedire che qualcuno lanci un oggetto contro il leader…
«Certo ma il servizio segreto può limitare il tipo di oggetti che possono essere lanciati contro il leader. E qui sta il terzo errore commesso a Milano: non c’erano controlli, perquisizioni o metal detector attraverso cui filtrare le persone che si avvicinavano a Berlusconi. Anche contro George W. Bush venne lanciata una scarpa a Baghdad, ma poiché i giornalisti entrati in quella sala erano passati attraverso i controlli di sicurezza non potevano avere con sé oggetti contundenti, di ferro, marmo o materiali simili».

Insomma, lei sta dicendo che non si può impedire il lancio di oggetti in sé, ma si possono limitare gli oggetti da lanciare.
«Esatto. Non si può togliere ogni oggetto a chi si avvicina al leader. Ma se si tratta di penne, matite, orologi, scarpe, cinte o anche lampade da tavolino i danni sono destinati ad essere limitati. I metal detector servono a questo. Il problema è che in piazza Duomo non c’erano affatto».

Quali dei tre errori è a suo avviso il più grave?
«Non c’è mai un errore più grave degli altri: è la concanetazione di sbagli differenti, la sovrapposizione fra molteplici carenze, che è sempre all’origine di un vulnus grave nel sistema di sicurezza che protegge un leader. Credo che i reponsabili della scorta di Berlusconi passeranno ora un periodo lungo e difficile di riesame delle procedure. Come facemmo noi dopo l’attentato a Reagan del marzo 1981».

(3) Day Executive Protection Agent Bodyguard Training

J.A. LaSorsa & Associates attempts to keep course costs and fees low in order to afford entry level security personnel an opportunity to obtain quality EP training at an affordable price. We intentionally omit firearms training; CPR and Defensive/Evasive Driver Training from our (3) Day Executive Protection Agent Training Course BECAUSE:

1. Firearms Training can be obtained LESS EXPENSIVIELY on your own, at local firearms ranges with certified firearms instructors.
2. CPR AND Emergency First Aid Training can also be obtained LESS EXPENSIVIELY on your own (consider the Red Cross).

Once an individual is certain he/she wishes to continue in the EP field, then pursuing other courses like CQB (Close Quarters Combat) and Defensive/Evasive Driver Training, as an adjunct to the academics of the concepts and procedures of Protective Operations.

Additionally, those of you who believe prior law enforcement, military or Martial Arts experience alone are necessarily solid experience and background as a basis to operate as Executive Protection Agents – NOT TRUE – unless you have undergone prior specific Executive Protection/VIP training provided by a law enforcement, military or reputable private school/agency.

Click here for our Bodyguard / Executive Protection Training Course Schedule

In the private sector world, EP Agents typically operate with limited personnel and may have to immediately respond to protectees to quickly move/evacuate them. In that protective scenario, Close Quarters Combat and Martial Arts experience will likely be the least beneficial skills sets working for you! In the millions of hours the Secret Service has been involved with Protection since 1901, there has never been a situation where an Agent has fired his/her firearm in defense during a Protective assignment! It is a highly unlikely scenario where you might be simultaneously evacuating your client and firing your weapon at the same time!

Bottom line, if you’re serious about operating as an EP Agent and understanding what to do and how to do it, consider attending one of my courses or a similar course offered elsewhere with similar academic topics for a similar fee, so you will understand the concepts and procedures of:

HOW to conduct 1) Threat Assessments, 2) Protective Security Advances and 3) setting up Protective Details for various private sector scenarios and situations!

3 Day Executive Protection Agent Training Course Executive Protective Agent / Bodyguard Training Course Content

Course Content – Topics:

  • Executive Protection – Principles & Concepts
  • Residence, Travel and Office Security
  • Assassination Attempts – Types of Assassins
  • Threat and Vulnerability Assessments (definition and the differences between them)
  • (4 live working Protective Detail exercises)
  • Advance Concepts – Domestic & Foreign Procedures & Guidelines
  • Duties of the Advance Agent
  • Firearm/Weapon Response and Takeaway Procedures (practical exercise)
  • Formations (practical exercise)
  • Protective Detail – Construction
  • Inner, Middle and Outer Perimeter Security – Concepts and Procedures
  • Site Advance (practical exercise)
  • Emergency/Contingency- Planning and Response Procedures
  • Motorcade Operations & Security (practical exercise – location permitting)
  • Armored Vehicle – History & Operations
  • Vehicular Bomb Detection & Sweeps
  • State Licensing Requirements for Executive Protection Services
  • How to get E.P. Jobs
  • How to Successfully Market E.P. Services

The (3) Day Agent Training Course is designed for the novice and is also a great refresher for the seasoned agent. There are (4) live, simulated Protection Detail practical exercises. Training material is provided.

A certificate of attendance is awarded to attendees upon completion.

Click here for our Executive Protection / Bodyguard Training Class Schedule

Besides Executive Protection and Bodyguard Training, J. A. LaSorsa also provides: Security Expert Witness, Anti-Wiretap and Audio Countermeasures, Consulting, Investigative, Polygraph, Executive Protection Estate & Yacht Security Systems & Consulting, Workplace Violence Training & Intervention.

Most Services also available in Europe, Central and South America.

As Seen and Featured: CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Daily Business Journal; Millionaires, Robb Report, DuPont Registry Magazines