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Discretion and client exposure in protection

We have all encountered the inquisitive nature of people that we encounter when we are doing our job. More than likely it will happen the first time for you when you do your final exercise and you visit a mall or restaurant. The question is always the same but possibly posed in a different manner, “Who are you protecting?” It can happen to the advance specialist when he/she is doing the protective advance and then it will happen again when you bring your principal in.

To the new specialist it can catch you off guard. How you respond can turn the person off and you can possibly lose any special circumstances that you may request. Other specialists have the gift of gab and can easily thwart the inquiries. Either way you need to have some pre-set responses. Even if you’re principal is a notable and will eventually be recognized by the employees or the patrons of the venue, it is still imperative that the cat is not out the bag. Using the person’s identity will surely get you every request you want because the restaurant, hotel or other wise wants to accommodate the principal, however identifying him/her will surely travel the rumor train fast. By the time your principal arrives later that day, there will be a gaggle of people, to include employees that were scheduled to be off, coming in to put eyes on the prize.

The same discretion should always be used for those principal’s that are not known to the general public but the mere purpose for protection affords them the same secrecy. I can never remember any time that I have performed the protective advance in a restaurant and said, “I am conducting and protective advance for my principal.” It is more than possible that after I was finished there may have been an inference that’s what I was doing, but I never opened the door to inquiries by revealing openly what I was doing.

When it comes to the RON [remain over night] the decision to remain discreet becomes a loss/gain equation. If you plan to move in and out and through the hotel without the need of any special privileges from the head of security, concierge, front of the house, and the General Manager, then you have your work cut out for you. But IF you need their assistance, you’ll have to have that conversation with the hotel security. He/she will notify the General Manager. You can request that they keep the identities and your purpose quiet but there is a clear distinction in hotels that are used to this type of request from those that don’t value the work you do. The higher up the Star value the hotel, the more they are used to what we do. I have never had a head of security or General manager ask who my protectee was. The lower you go down the staff rank and file the more the possibility can be. Many of these hotel management staff stress to their employees the importance of privacy and discretion, but that does not always stick.

A few years back me and Mark traveled to Dubai 3 days in advance of the our principal and his guests. We started the advance at the hotel, which happened to be the only 7 Star hotel in the world. We met with the General Manager, the head of security, housekeeping manager and the front of house manager. They already knew who the principal was due to the way the reservations were made. The crux of our conversation was discretion and privacy of the staff. We were told that everyone in the hotel understood and that they are used to seeing notable persons. They literally gave us the keys to the house. The day that our principal arrived we did a covered arrival and came up in the staff elevator. As we exited to our floor I observed more staff meandering on our floor than I had seen the previous 2 days. Every floor of this hotel has its own concierge who sits at the mouth of the elevator hallway before you enter the access to the suites. The concierge stood up and said, “Welcome Mr. %*#*@#!” I kept him and the guests moving as Mark handed over the copies of our passports. As we neared the presidential suite I looked across the large chasm that separated one side from the other, I observed cleaning staff, butlers and others pointing to my principal and gasping for air trying to regain their composure. It was THEN that I said to myself, no matter what hotel you go to, 5 Star, 7 Star or the Motel 6, discretion is rarely honored. That staff that was supposed to be trained to handle any guest was literally overwhelmed. So when you go to the Burj al Arab, you have been duly warned.

Your approach, and your demeanor can divert any inquiries as to the identity of your principal. Even if they are not known by face people want to know because they have security. A funny response that we use sometimes that gets a laugh but says “none of your business” at the same time is this. When they ask who the principal is, we respond, “Can you keep a secret?’ That usually sets them up because they think you’re about to let them know. They ALWAYS respond, “Yes.” Then we say, “So can I.”

Every time you are operating you should always have this in the back of your head, especially if you are dealing with people and have to request assistance or special needs.

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