What's Missing From Close Protection Training Courses
When I started my close protection course, I was overwhelmed by the other candidates/ course attendees because of their age, military/ policing backgrounds and general confidence. I was bar far the youngest on the course. In fact, if I remember correctly, the next youngest person was 9 years older than me which at 22, is a big difference. If you would have asked me before the course started the type of people I hope will be on the course, I would probably have chosen people the same age as me (or younger) with no relevant backgrounds whatsoever. Looking back now I can see that the reality benefited me in several ways. One was the drive it gave me to do well on the course and impress the instructor. As far as I was concerned he was the only opportunity of gaining work in the industry after I had received my licence from the SIA (Security Industry Authority).
What a lot of people don’t realise is that you only really do a close protection course for one of two reasons; 1) Because you work or contracts lined up and simply need your licence which allows you to work legally as a CPO or 2) Because you’ve decided that this is something that you’re interested in doing. Mine was the latter. I literally had no plans after the course in terms of gaining work, I just knew that this was something that I wanted to do and did it. I received a fair amount of criticism for it. Try telling someone out of the blue that you want to become a bodyguard and that you plan to invest around £4000 for the pleasure. My advice on that would be, don’t do it at a party or in front of a group of people. Anyway, I digress. Back to the matter at hand. I was talking about not preparing myself for work after the course. I suppose I didn’t think that far ahead. I was more concerned about getting through the course first and also being able to afford it in the first place.
What I didn't realise was the slipper ladder that was to be climbed before even being considered for a bodyguard role. This is a big topic that I will write a post about at a later date. Anyway, when I did finally get to this stage I started to mentally revise my training to ensure that I was as professional as possible and didn't screw up. I should mention at this point that I a majority of the tasks that I was doing were for celebrity principals. This is relevant because they were mostly low threat operations which is probably why it became apparent that a lot of my training and relatively newly gained knowledge was irrelevant. Yes you need to know and understand how threat assessments, route selection and all of the other elements works but the reality is that you're not very likely to use most of them in an urban environment. This leads me, very neatly, onto the main topic and headline of this post. What's missing? Well, in all honesty, quite a bit. Some of which may sound a little bit odd. So here a couple:
1) Cultural Do's & Do Not's
It surprises me when I am told that a modern day close protection officer is not aware of the various cultural preferences that they may come across. Of course it could be something that could be learnt at a later date but my experience is that most people learn it on the job which could have severe consequences. For example, most Russians will consider you "untrustworthy" if you smile at them and if you're not trustworthy, you shouldn't be working around them, their children and their home.
If this is not taught on a course then it should at the very least be encouraged as continual professional development (CPD).
2) Negotiating with Venues
Another one that can lead to embarrassment is not being able to make simple requests with venues such as bars, restaurants etc. Most of the time, the search advance party (SAP) will be tasked with ensuring that the venue is secure prior to the principal's arrival. Part of this will include establishing a safe seating area for them. Just because you are working for a VIP or High-Net Worth individual doesn't mean that the venue staff will simply do whatever you ask of them. In fact, I've experienced quite the opposite on a number of occasions. Therefore you will need to learn not only basic negation skills (which is part of the syllabus) but also a level of positive communication that will better assist you to get a suitable/ desirable seating or general area for your principal. On the close protection course that I have written, this is included both theoretically and practically. The reality is that not having these skills will potentially lead to embarrassment. That's you being embarrassed and possibly the principal as well should they arrive at a venue with their friends/ family without having adequate seating arrangements.
This is a huge topic on by itself but always shocks me that we are expected to control adrenaline and the huge affects it has on our performance should an incident occur. On the cp course I have written, I have included a lesson on adrenaline, what it is, its affects on the human body and how we can control it.