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What Is Close Protection Security + Becoming an Officer

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What is close protection security? How do I start doing close protection, and how do I even know that it’s right for me? What responsibilities do close protection officers have? 

If you’re new to the industry or thinking about joining, you probably have a ton of questions that sound something like the ones above. We’re here to answer all of them today.

Answering the Question: What Is Close Protection Security?

A quick Google Search on What is close protection security will come up with a ton of different results. But most of the information is either incomplete or inaccurate, or it’s just a security company trying to sell you their services. We’re not here to do that.

Put simply, close protection security or just close protection (CP) is a provision of physical security by someone who has received specialized training. In the industry, these people are known as Close Protection Officers (CPOs) or bodyguards.

The day-to-day of close protection can vary significantly, and the tasks and responsibilities differ from one another depending on the contract. With that said, the main goal of CP is to prevent any sort of injury, damage, loss, or death.

Close protection is the mitigation of security risks and their impacts on the principal and their assets. The mitigation is delivered by skilled risk and threat managers in a complex environment.

Tony O Brien, Security and Risk Management Specialist

Who Are Close Protection Officers?

Close Protection Officers, CPOs, or bodyguards are all terms that describe those who are involved in any sort of protective effort or hold a protective role. Depending on the client, role, operation, and budget, a CPO might have to work a detail alone or as part of a bigger team.

It’s also important to note that the road to becoming a CPO is different for everyone. Some start their professional lives in close protection, while others join much later on. Oftentimes, we will have people from law enforcement agencies or military branches who want to transition into protective work

Close Protection Roles

There’s a wide array of close protection roles you might assume one day, so there’s no way we can cover all of them. But let’s talk about the most relevant few, and help you learn what all those CP abbreviations stand for.

First off, there’s the team leader or CPTL, whose role is to manage an entire protection team and liaise with the client. Team leaders must have years of experience and training. They also have to be capable of doing advance work, as well as taking on a management role.

Then, there’s the second in command or the 2IC, who works essentially as a deputy to the CPTL. In a team, you’ll also find the Personal Protection Operative (PPO), who is tasked with protecting the Principal. The everyday tasks of a PPO will vary greatly, and depend on the Principal, their needs, and schedule.

As part of the close protection industry, you’ll also find these roles:

  • Personal Escort Protection (PES)
  • Security Advance Party (SAP)
  • Residential Security Team (RST)
  • Counter-attack Team (CAT)
  • Security Drivers
  • Personal Security Details (PSD)
  • Medics

This is not a comprehensive list, but it should give you an idea of just how vast the industry is, and that there’s usually something that’ll suit everyone’s skills.

One of the most essential tools a new practitioner or an aspiring person going into the Close Protection industry can have is to network. Whether online, in person or any other means, networking will keep your name in the game. As well as spreading knowledge you have learned.

Justen Keating, Director of Asset Protection & Family Security at Private Family Office

Training

As any CPO will tell you, you’re only as good as your training, willingness to learn, and experience. Now, we’ve already covered hard and soft skills in close protection extensively. So we won’t go into too much detail, but we do want to highlight the most important skills.

Hard Skills

The four most basic hard skills include:

  • Driving
  • Unarmed combat
  • Shooting 
  • Medical skills

Knowing basic driving tactics is a must when you’re in CP. You should also be trained in some sort of unarmed combat or martial arts. No MAs are better than each other, so it’s all a matter of personal preferences.

You should also have basic medical emergency skills, know CPR, and have some sort of certificate proving that. Lastly, there are your shooting skills, which are usually most talked about and trained. But if you ask any working CPO, they’ll tell you that shooting is always their most underutilized skill. CP work is not like in the movies, so the chances of you firing your guns in a shootout during your career are slim to none.

what is close protection security
Diplomatic Security Service special agents provide dignitary protection for the Bahrain foreign minister who is participating in UNGA 73, New York City, September 27, 2018. (U.S. Department of State photo)

Soft Skills

Even though hard skills are what’s going to get you through the proverbial close protection door, soft skills are what will make you stand out. And there are no two ways about it, if your soft skills are lacking, you’ll lose the contract before you can even say “Which soft skills?”

Speaking of, the soft skills we always like to highlight are:

Never underestimate the importance of highly-developed soft skills because they can make or break your entire career. Remember, CP is a pretty close-knit industry, and if you have a bad attitude or boast about your clients on social media constantly, you’re probably not going to last very long.

The misconception has come to the point where individuals in our Craft believe that it is hard skills VS soft skills. It has never been hard skills VS soft skills but the combination of the two and knowing when and where to use more hard skills than soft skills or more soft skills than hard skills. Each detail is described by the environment, the clientele, and the threat. While almost every EP school will teach a vast array of various hard skills, it is real life, innate understanding, and a certain sense of empathy and emotional awareness that will teach the agents the absolute necessity of the soft skills. One wrong comment to the wrong person at the wrong time can have you fired on the spot. And no certificate, time on the range, or hours spent on the mat can save your career. The most applicable and time-tested skills are actually items such as etiquette, cultural customs awareness, manners and courtesy, and the mastering of professional communication.

Denida Grow, Founder & CEO Athena Worldwide & Nannyguards/Managing Partner at LeMareschal LLC

Close Protection Security Clients

There’s a misconception that only the wealthiest and most famous individuals require close protection. And while they often make up the majority of the clients, the truth is that almost anyone in need of security can be a client or a Principal.

Each and every client is unique and will have their own specific needs. For example, the head of a state traveling and a celebrity on the red carpet will probably have different requirements, and it’s a CPOs job to adjust their approach. 

Either way, no matter who the Principal is, your job is to protect them and their assets. 

Final Thoughts

We hope that we’ve answered your question of what is close protection security and how to become an officer. Let us leave you with some parting words:

We know that starting a new career, especially one as dynamic as CP is no small feat. It doesn’t matter if you have previous military or law enforcement experience or not, the best advice you will receive is to never stop learning. 

To help you on your journey, here’s a list of articles you should definitely consider:

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