Even the best have to always be ready.

A few months ago French President Sarkozy was pulled inside a ropeline while his security appeared to me caught off guard.  This video went viral all over the world and the experts went on a feeding frenzy.

On November 30, 2011 President Obama was in Scarnton, PA where he was joyously greeted by supporters.  As he approached the fence barrier to press the flesh and do what we call the “grip and grin”, an overwhelmed female literally grabs his hand and then his arm in the bicep and tricep region and yanked him inwards.  The United States Secret Service responded in a timely fashion yet did not take any dynamic action on the excited woman.

Clearly, this was unexpected however the response measure was far different than that of the French Security assigned to Sarkozy.  This brings up a subject that I have spoken about before-working the ropeline.  From a sepcialists perspective, working a ropeline is very difficult.  There are factors that make this difficult:

  1. Lack of manpower to be effective
  2. No control over who is in the ropeline
  3. No training in ropeline operations (most prevailing missing module in most EP schools)

We actively teach ropeline, receiving lines, greeting lines, grip and grin or whatever you want to call them.  If you are working alone, you are literally going to be watching it happen.  It is inconcievable to look up the line at where you are going, look down the line where you have passed and still maintain constant contact on who is in front of your principal actively engaging the protectee.  We teach a 6/9 approach where 2 specialists can work the ropeline effectively with constant feedback from each other as well as gauging the protectee’s reaction to the crowd.  I haven’t even touched on those hairy situations when you protectee walks in a crowd and you and the principal get enveloped by the masses.  These situations are also those times when you should have already arranged a non-emergency duress signal by the protectee as well as a pre-agreed upon way of how you notify them that it is best to eloquently disengage the crowd without telegraphing it.

If you know that there will be a grip and grin I suggest that you get with the client or event coordinator to attempt to arrange the set up so that you will have some advantage over the situation.  I have worked ropelines, with all types of principals and they don’t get any easier.  We recently did a receiving line with a very high profile religious figure where certain items that would never be allowed under most circumstances were part of the standard to see him/her.  We spent close to an hour convincing the host group to allow us to re-arrange the way the line worked.  It was a measure of letting the believers get what they wanted, what the host wanted to give and what we needed.  In the end, it was the way we presented the request that prevailed and all parties we pleased.

If you have not learned how to work a ropeline or receiving line, I encourage you to learn soon.

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