Red flags in EP have become something of a commonplace in not only the protection field but also in training offered in private organizations. Many organizations have training modules regarding insider threats and what red flags to look for in an employee, (i.e. – potential active shooter or cyberattack).
What Are the Red Flags in EP?
Red flags are synonymous with body movements, gestures, and especially eye contact.
Private organizations have insider threat training for internal employee red flags while. They are concurrent with having individuals keep an eye on their surroundings while in transit. Most of this training seems to be typical and under compliance rather than to keep the employees’ risk eye sharp.
Executive protection agents’ red flag tracking system, (mental and preparedness), prior, during, and at the conclusion of the protective detail is very important. It is a deciding variable that can determine a successful outcome for a protective detail.
When executive protection comes to mind and red flags that the protective detail must keep an eye out for, most laypersons conclude that it would be outward red flags that are the biggest threats.
The Principal Red Flags in EP
For example, if a high-profile government official enters an area that is rife for assault and robbery. However, most of the uninitiated do not realize that one of the biggest red flags comes from the principal(s) under protection.
In the private sector, executive protection details, especially for a C-Suite member, tend to be more of a crutch to the principal rather than a force multiplier for personal safety and security.
Just as many training programs on spotting behavioral red flags have a compliance or quota edge to it. So some principals feel that a protective detail is not needed, and it makes them uncomfortable. Also, it often generates a common question “How much is this going to cost us?”
The question that the principal(s) should be asking is, “How much is this going to cost the company, myself, and my family if something happens to me?” That is especially true if the principal(s) caused the negative by being careless.
This substantiates the importance of an executive protection detail and leadership. They must not only be versed in spotting red flags from external aggressors but also those resonating from the principal as well.
Aggressors are not unskilled. Most are just as skilled, or even more so than the executive protection agent(s). Just as protection is a career choice, so is a life of criminal activity.
Opportunistic vulnerability is present on every principal. It is incumbent upon the protective detail to ensure that that level stays as low as possible. In other words, it’s up to them to help save them from themselves. The most common red flags to look for on a principal is:
- Loud conversations: Remember, not all damage needs to be done to the principal(s) physically for the aggressor(s) to benefit. Loquacious chatter, especially when alcohol is involved, can make the principal(s) divulge information. An aggressor can easily pick up on it and exploit such as trade secrets and more importantly, critical locations. For example, a principal shouting into a cell phone to a family member or colleague, “Hey! I am staying at the ABC Hotel on Main Street, they have a great indoor pool!”
- Displaying Expensive Items: Contemporary culture in most regions of the world will say what someone wearing an expensive watch or carrying expensive luggage (i.e. – purse), sums up their importance on a status level. To aggressors, these act as an attraction beacon.
- Unnecessary Labels: When traveling, many principals tend to mark their baggage with their personal information. They even go as far as placing their business cards in the luggage window. One of the easiest countermeasures a principal can do is to not broadcast their movements to the public. This might be difficult to contain though because C-Suite culture and company objectives are based on a friendly and open approach.
To Sum Up
The principal(s) does not need to feel like they are under arrest during the detail. However, they must take the instruction from those tasked to protect and know that it is in their best interests.
Times are tough and aggressors do not live by a Robin Hood code of, “Robbing from the rich and giving to the poor.” It is more like, “One for all and all for me!”
The opportunistic vulnerability window never closes completely. It stays open a crack, halfway, and wide open at times. The protective detail must ensure that the window is limited and stays closed for as much and as long as possible.
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