The close protection officer

Bodyguard Vs. EP Agent

The close protection officer

Within the security industry, we have seen a decline of the term bodyguard. Bodyguard has come to symbolize the buffoon who we see aggressively pushing crowds in images with celebrities in gossip magazines. This caricature could include the off-duty cop who can carry a concealed weapon, the bouncer who is very large, or the martial artist who can fight well.

These bodyguards have been involved in selling information to the tabloids, violating confidentiality agreements, various use of force incidents, having improper or no licensing, hiring independent contractors and misclassifying security employees, carrying guns or weapons without the proper permits or license, starting frivolous labor board suits and workman’s compensation suits against their client, impersonating police officers, and even engaging in inappropriate behavior with the client.

Bodyguards will typically become a major liability to the client for reasons of indiscretion, unwarranted use of force or incompetency in the area of risk management.

In the past, these untrained bodyguards dominated the protection market.

Today, most individuals and companies that hire executive protection services are more evolved. Reducing liability has become the number one concern for them and they look for professional executive protection agents with formal training from a respected and accredited executive protection school. The reason that this is important is that executive protection training is a completely different academy from police or military academies; at an executive protection school the focus is on protective intelligence and prevention. A seasoned executive protection agent has achieved formal executive protection training over the course of his or her career.

Unlike the typical guard the EP Agent need to be in a completely different mindset, be very logistic orientated, follow very specific protocols and be very sensitive to confidentiality (not just if you work with diplomats), extremely discipline ,and well trained (not to even mention the obvios high level of firearm training).

Today, the untrained element still remains alongside the professional agents within the security industry.

Anyone working in Security in most countries must hold a ‘guard card’, in South Africa (the body calls PSIRA) In order to obtain a ‘guard card’, the security officer must have completed at least 30-50 hours of training from PSIRA (depending on the grade his aiming to from D to A). The professional Executive Protection training is not relevant to the guard. And companies that are operating over many years  have dramatically elevated the formal training base in the industry.

For us the PSIRA training , including grade A is not relevant for the CPO as it’s very basic and again the EP agent isn’t a guard, but we still need all our CPOs to hold that certificate for law purposes.

During my time in the industry I met people who by day works as guards in a bar and also been employed on a causal basis as a CPO like it is same skills required.


Leaders in the security industry realize that providing Executive Protection services takes a specialized skill set and that past experience or training in law enforcement, the military, and martial arts is not enough. Those academies are a great base, but do no train anyone in Executive Protection. Cross training is necessary to make the transition and is difficult but it can be done. An example is the off-duty police officer: a police officer receives thousands of hours of training about pulling his or her gun at the scene of a crime. It’s a reactive motion. In Executive Protection we need to train against that. An Executive Protection Agent should never be reacting to a crime by drawing his or her weapon. Rather, the Agent is focusing on the Principal and covering and evacuating him or her out of harm’s way. As an aside, another strong argument to not using off-duty policeman as Executive Protection Agents is that police are bound by their oath to stop crime and drop all off duty activities at a moment’s notice to report for duty.

A good Executive Protection Agent will continue to train on a yearly basis to maintain the standards and skills required, just as good companies will offer training to their Agents. the basics foundations for a Executive Protection training program will generally focus around:

  • Advance Work: protective intelligence/threat assessment
  • 3 rings of Protection: layering the protection around the principle
  • Cover and Evacuate: we never stand and fight

 A good executive protection training will include the following curriculum outline as part of their training:

Protective Advances, Protective Intelligence, Radio Communications, Motorcades and Routes, Firearms and Special Tactics, Public Affairs and Media Control, Emergency First Aid/CPR, Counter Terrorist Driving, Explosive Device Detection, Surveillance Recognition, Ambush Recognition, Post Assignments ,Cover and Evacuate ,Counter Surveillance ,Protective Formations ,Command Post Operations ,Access Control and Crowd Control, Bomb Incident Management ,suspects identify, Safeguarding Privacy ,Threat Management, Evasive and tactical Driving ,Investigations – Kidnap/Assassination Studies,