Snapshot to judgement

I have to confess that in my beginning stages as a Vance agent in the field and away from the gatehouse and the Saudi Ambassador’s residence I was caught up in the image I portrayed to the senior Vance agents and the management staff.  The powers-that-be had instilled a very extreme model of professionalism.  Everything was a measurement against or toward your professionalism.  Vance was the private sector Secret Service and that was taken seriously.

Small things like how you actually stood doing halls and walls were critiqued, table manners and even how smoothly you stopped the car at a red light.  All of these menial things to most, were a measuring tool of your professionalism and keys to staying in the field or sent back on the bench.  The gatehouse was like a baseball team’s dugout.  You watched and heard the pro’s playing in the field and waited for the nod.  When that time came it was in the form a pinch hitter.  You had to make the best of that situation in order to eventually get back in the game.

As I scan new friend requests I always view their posts on their personal pages to evaluate their personal behavior and then I venture into the photo gallery.  Some of the pictures that specialists feel are a sign of high speed operation, [meaning that they are bragging about the fact that they are working] have a different definition to the trained eye.  Hands in pockets, looking at other people’s body parts are a moment captured in time that tell another story.  It can be difficult at times to stay vigilant, cognizant and ever present in the NOW, but bad things happen in a split second.  Fumbling through pocket trash is never a part of training.  I have never seen or heard of any EP weapons training that has the firing line start from hands in their pockets.  Hands in the pockets is a sign that you have taken your pack off.  You are not present mentally or physically.  Subconsciously you are miles away sipping on a Mai Tai and physically it shows.  Guess what?  Everyone sees that snapshot and make a rush to judgement.  In their minds you are just their physically, but mentally you are GONE!

If you start slouching from standing long periods of time – you are out of shape and your core is struggling to stay on the clock.  Once you sit down you feel like you’re 90 years old when you try to get up.  You know that feeling, when you get up out of the chair you exhale with that “ugghh” and in your mind you say to yourself, “Damn I’m stiff!” 

A well tailored suit is a beautiful thing and Alan Flusser [Dressing the Man] talks about buttoning up the the blazer, which buttons should be buttoned and which should not.  I get that from a non-operational stand point.  All of that speaks to the MAN.  But operationally a buttoned up blazer speaks to the specialist.  Walking the catwalk is totally different than walking a principal.  Petty you say?  I say petty differences saves lives.  To an adversary a buttoned up blazer is a chance he/she will take.  Go ahead and laugh and write me off on this one but I would venture to say that most don’t go to the range and practice in their suits and for those 2 or 3 that do, never shoot from a buttoned blazer.

Even so much as seeing how you rig your radio and kit says alot about the specialist.  If your pigtail is loose and slouching down you collar it tells me that you care very little about your equipment and appearance.  When you meet with non security personnel and your earpiece is hanging out your suit and not tucked under your blazer it gives the impression that, “I am here and I really don’t care.”  It’s all a part of imagery.  It’s like going to a meeting and having the knot on your ties loose and the top button open.  Get the picture now.  It’s the small things and they all matter.

It is vitally important to know that the image you portray and any snapshot in time can be a rush to judgement.

1 comment

  1. Josh Lee

    This part of the business is overlooked far TOO OFTEN! I’ve actually had guys I’ve put on details show up in a Mickey Mouse tie, one guy wore a black suit, black shirt and white silk tie, another wore tennis shoes….YES TENNIS SHOES. All three were cast away to the CP since I didn’t have the manpower to cut them, however NONE have been asked back.

    Like it or not, how you look is the first thing a client will see, especially if you are new to the detail. Not only the client, but looking like a Dub will immediately crush your credibility with fellow agents. No need to stack the deck against you by looking like 10 pounds of Sh*t in a 5 pound bag.

    Great piece Eric! I’ve always loved the saying… “Look sharp, act sharp, be sharp”!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *