It’s an easy yet tough decision

You are the advance/site specialist on site waiting for the detail to arrive. An hour before the expected arrival you are making sure that the site is safe, plans haven’t changed and everything that has been planned is still set to go as planned. Any changes that have been made can be relayed to the detail leader at the earliest convenient opportunity.

You have checked the room, office area, meeting space or whatever location is the principal’s first stop is. Periodically you check the apron or where ever the designated drop is to make sure that the area is safe and clear for an arrival. (Note: I do not recommend standing at the drop spot too early or too often, as it will surely forecast an arrival). Your demeanor and focus already gives off an appearance that “something” is about to happen. Going to the apron too early and too often signals to even the lowest levels of security prowess that an apparent arrival is soon to take place. While you are taking care of last minute measures you have already received calls from the shift detailing they are en route, count down to arrival and site reports. If there are any concerns you need to start the dialogue about possible delays in programs, media presence, protestors etc.

10 to 15 minutes out you make your way to the drop and ready yourself for what may be the hardest part of your job of the arrival- the wave off. Switching the arrival from the primary to the secondary is not as devastating as a wave off. Changing the drop location happens all the time and can be easily conveyed to your principal, but telling him/her that we are scrubbing the drop altogether will need to be followed up with a valid explanation. Remember, the concerns that your advance specialist and you have may not weigh the same with a principal. So be prepared for some push back. If that happens it is time for you to be able to put the expert security specialist hat on. Logtistical unpreparedness on the part of an event manager is different from protestor or media presence. So choose your wave offs wisely. Your principal may say that they don’t care and decide to do the drop anyway.

As you get within 5 mikes out the radio or cell phone, and sometimes both are blaring. As the advance specialist you are the eyes on the ground for the detail and we depend on you. Don’t forget that, nor the responsibilty of your job. It is easy to get or allow others to distract you with common questions like, “How far are they away?’ “Does he/she have time to do such and such?” I never tell anyone outside of my wheel house the exact arrival time. I always say, “They will be here shortly.” The non security person will inevitably start telling everyone when the arrival will take place. The same is true when it comes to changing the arrival location.

When you advise the detail that there is going to be a wave off or change in drop you need to articulate pertinent, succinct and cogent information. It is the responsibility of the detail leader to advise the principal as well as the primary driver as soon as possible. They are smart people. They know or at least have an idea what the venue looks like, the time they are supposed to arrival already because their staff and you have briefed them on what was going to happen. That being said, you don’t want them to start asking questions first. Get the information out to them as soon as you can and explain it clearly. “Sir/Ma’am, we are going to change the arrival location because….” “Sir/Ma’am, we are going to circle the block because….”

Advance specialists have a very important job that can be stressful as the clock ticks down to the arrival. Your detail depends on your expertise and decisions. That being said, never put an inexperienced specialist in this situation without first having the luxury of shadowing an experienced advance/site specialist

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