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Circles of Security: Misconceptions and Applications

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Industry specialists sometimes think of them as a surefire way of protecting the principal. And yes, many justifiably revere circles of security as one of the best protection systems in EP.

We at EP Wired couldn’t agree more.

As a matter of fact, this technique has reached perfection levels in recent years. So in this article, three EP professionals share their insights on why circles of security will likely remain one of the most reliable methods to protect the principal.

Why Circles of Security Matter?

Any well-trained and experienced EPA knows that they need to be aware of everything happening in a 360-degree circle around the protectee. Hence, the term circles of protection.

That is one of the commandments for protecting the principal.

A robust and efficient Security Program has its basis in Identified Risks, Threats, and Vulnerabilities (RTVs). In addition, there are several services available in the vast spectrum that makes up the private security industry: Access Control, Loss Prevention, Crowd Control, Alarm Monitoring, Security Vetting, Threat Investigations, Asset Protection, Valuables in Transit Protection, Personal Protection, Alarm, and Incident Response, Screening Services, Drug, and Explosive Detection Canines, etc. are all examples of services that exist within our industry.

If we picture these services as circles on a screen, a good Security Risk Advisor can add circles to a security program to mitigate identified RTVs. First, some circles may stand next to each other, such as manpower security and electronic security. Then within them, smaller circles can exist, such as security patrols, asset protection or alarm, and CCTV monitoring.

This creates a comprehensive program with redundancies. Other times the circles may intersect, such as threat target surveillance and personal protection. They work hand in hand to support RTV mitigation. By creating a security program with a basis in security circles, you can ensure that every stakeholder has a sound understanding of the program, the reason for each service, and each service’s place within the program.

Josh Reeve, Chief Security Officer, Empire Protection

Common Misconceptions

The executive protection industry has undergone a barrage of misconceptions, both internal and external. How people perceive the work of EPAs and their actual everyday craft are in stark opposition.

So, let’s dive deeper into some of those misconceptions, this time surrounding circles of security.

Circles of protection, also known as layers of security, is a target hardening system. It deters aggressor(s) from reaching their primary objective. These objectives may include theft or harm toward persons and/or property.

The application of security in layers is very effective and requires those implementing it to work together toward a common goal. Still, there are a couple of misconceptions from laypersons and the public:

The circles of protection model aims to stop the aggressor(s). Indeed, this is the objective. However, the purpose of the circles of protection is to deter ― and more importantly ― slow the aggressor(s) down. That is, until detection and notification are made. This is made possible through annunciators. These include alarms or motion detectors that alert individuals, both security and non-security, that something is not right and somebody needs to respond.

Risk can be 100% mitigated. No matter how much money or countermeasures are put in place to deter aggressor(s), persons and property are never 100% free of risk. The circles of protection model is designed to make things difficult for those who intend to disturb an individual or organization. However, since humans do not have the gift of foresight per se, security professionals can strategically anticipate actions and vulnerability in making who or what they are protecting safest to the highest possible level.

Matthew Porcelli, Security Manager, Harvard Protection Services, LLC.

circles of security

Applications of Circles of Security in EP

Circles of security function in layers within circles to form a greater deterrence. The physical security aspect of this system knows no restrictions or limitations but that of finance and imagination.

In other words, the circles of security can be as sophisticated as money can buy or as imaginative as the EP team can conceive.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The rings of security haven’t changed dramatically in the last 20-30 years on a physical level for the VIPs.

They have the Inner Ring with the “take your pick of the terminology” of AIC, 2IC, Primary Protection officer, DL, TL, etc. In charge of direct communication with the VIP and evacuation in case of an AOP.

Then the middle Ring of the “formation” itself. Regardless of how many agents are on the detail, they’ll have to form a ring with a basis in some formation. We have all learned the Diamonds, boxes, open and closed Vs, wedge, etc. So we have something from which to deviate.

In the private sector, we rarely have security details large enough to use these types. But we make do with the manpower we have and modify as needed based on the situations we find ourselves in. I would mention the Advance Team here as well.

Lastly, we have the Outer Ring. Sometimes they “belong” to the detail, such as an RST team, for example. Or, they don’t if it is venue security, Law Enforcement, assigned protection for yachts, planes, hotels, etc. As we are not in charge of these elements for the most part, you should pay special attention to them for many reasons.

One thing all of the above have in common is the overt aspect. However, we have seen the covert element become more used and more favorable for clients in the last ten years or so. It happens in areas such as Silicon Valley. There, a low profile/no profile among the tech giants is the new preferred solution.

So we have now added “Covert Protection” and “Surveillance Detection” into the rings of security as the new normal. You can deploy or replace them anywhere in the three circles as needed. That depends on team setup and the desired Executive Protection goals.

Martin Nielsen, Founder, 3D Executive Services

The Takeaways

In this article, we learned that the circles of security include procedures, systems, and personnel in the protectee’s environment. So, it isn’t just about the people who are physically surrounding the principal.

To conclude: The best way to protect any person is to establish protection in the form of multiple layers.

The chief goal of circles of security is to create a defense to prevent anyone from getting the upper hand. In other words, this protection method thwarts a malefactor from gaining a position to kill or injure the person receiving protection services.

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