One of the least asked questions asked in this industry of specialists that have entered into the industry is, “What attracted you to the craft?” There has to be a draw. Whether you believe it or not, the primary responsibility of the United Secret Service is that of a Federal Law enforcement agency. Everyone that makes it in to the Service will not make it to PPD and work the President. Most will support a presidential visit and many will work protection on a campaign. But ALL will work criminal cases. That IS the primary responsibility of the USSS. The importance of their job with POTUS has many Americans confused about their real roles in federal law enforcement. The attraction maybe protection but the job is law enforcement.
So what is it that draws aspiring specialist to the EP table at career choice day? Sadly enough I think a large number are drawn to the bodyguard table where there are pictures upon pictures of bald headed guys wearing sunglasses walking almost inside the hip pocket of some celebrity. Like it or not that is a draw to a large number of people in this industry. Clearly there is no career day nor is there a table with BG pictures but the same symbolism can be seen online. on the news etc.. Somewhere along the evolution or downfall of this craft, working a club as a bouncer or being a gym rat was a progression into the personnel protection field. When previous requirements were former law enforcement or military began to fade the flood gates opened up and this industry became the millennium version of the military in the 70′s and 80′s. When graduating high school students didn’t go to college, the military was the natural option for many. Bottom line, you either went to school or to the military.
So how did we become the pit stop for failed career decisions? When did we substitute professionalism with mediocrity? Easy access with no requirement or measurement to show ability put us in the situation we are in now. If you think about it. there are absolutely no requirements to start working as a BG in this industry. I would go so far as to say that there are probably just as many if not more people working protection or their version of it, that do not have any licensure nor qualified training under their belt. I’d bet money on that. I am also comfortable in saying that many of these folks are highly regarded in their own circles, not for their expertise, but for who they are seen around.
Established providers qualify these same guys by using them without seriously looking at their backgrounds and risk their own licensing by putting them on their details. The problem with this is that you inadvertently certify them amongst your valued specialists. If you work in VA you can almost guarantee that guys on the detail will be self vetting everyone on the detail and reporting to DCJS of anyone who is not licensed as well as the company that is using them. The exception to this is the catfish network where they will use a hodge podge of guys that are all unethical. Honor amongst thieves is the rule of the day.
So what is the real attraction and how do we regain the image of professionalism in protection. How do we transfer the image of the burly bald headed guy with the sunglasses to that of the private sector version of the Secret Service? I am hoping that we can broach these topics at the PSC conference this year even if it is in a side bar conversation over lunch.