Best Practices for Executive Protection

For companies and individuals, ensuring the safety and security of the organization and its employees is of utmost importance. Integral to providing that security is effective corporate risk management, and for individuals, particularly executives, an experienced executive protection team. Mitigating potential threats can help companies avoid serious and damaging results.

Executive protection can include travel risk management, workplace violence mitigation, special event management and close protection agents, and there are a number of best practices when it comes to providing the necessary protection.

Awareness of one’s surroundings is the first step in ensuring that he or she is properly protected. Knowing the threats associated with that area and the threats that the individual is faced with will help the executive protection team in providing effective security. The team assigned to an individual or a group of individuals must also be highly-trained and able to react to many different types of events without a moment's hesitation.

Know the Area:

Whether an individual is traveling to a foreign country or a different city or state, it’s imperative that the team charged with providing security conducts a thorough advance, at least virtually, but preferable in person as well. One effective way to better understand the area is to work with local, highly experienced and reliable security personnel in the area to which an individual may be going. While the assigned team can do research to understand where they are headed, individuals who have experience in that country or city will be able to provide additional insight to the area and risks that may be associated with it.

Within the geographic area, knowing the details, such as routes that will need to be driven, both primary and backups identified, locations visited, and a detailed understanding about physical location’s characteristics that individuals or teams will be in is vital to their security. Knowing where potential vulnerabilities to the principal are located and understanding the physical environment, such as floor plans, emergency exits and life safety capacities, are all part of understanding the area of operation. This knowledge and awareness of locations and types of potential threats can help the team if an event does arise, allowing them to get the principal to safety. Further to this point, it is important to utilize a security driver and not just a chauffeur. Vehicle movements are some of the most vulnerable times, and security drivers should be utilized for most executive protection situations.

Know the Threats:

Beyond knowing the area that an individual is in or traveling to, it’s important to know the risks that the area presents. Whether it is political unrest, criminal activity, health outbreaks or other issues, understanding potential threats and their likelihood will help the team to provide effective protection as well as to be prepared to handle any potential or emerging threats

Each threat will bring unique responses based on the situation and the potential risks. If a known and credible threat targets a speaking engagement, it is the duty of the experienced executive protection professional to not only assess the risk posed by the threat based on their capability and intent, but to increase the response force or add other mitigation steps to counter the threat. An EP team might redeploy its positioning or bring in additional technical surveillance to expand their situational awareness and act as a force multiplier and enable a timely response to any threat manifestation.

Perhaps an international traveler is abroad, and is under imminent threat. When properly arrayed, executive protection offers real time mitigation from many risky situations, whether on travel or in a fixed location, to ensure safety, protection and peace of mind.

Sometimes the threats faced are not physical threats. It is also important to understand the business espionage threats in every location. Principals should know if communications and conversations might be intercepted, monitored or recorded. And they should have countermeasures available, such as Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM), if that is warranted by the threats.

Or, perhaps a disgruntled employee reacts violently to being laid off. Whether it involves placing an armed plainclothes agent at the front entrance of the employer’s lobby, or some other preventative technique, it is the responsibility of the executive protection professional to prepare, assess and respond to any potentially threatening situation that might arise.

The situations vary from day to day, but one thing remains the same: the team must be prepared for various types of threats that they may face.

Many global locations have unique risks to that specific area. Knowing the threats that a team or individual may face is imperative to providing effective executive protection. Threats will continue to evolve and adapt to countermeasures in place; therefore, it is critical for protection professionals to study and stay abreast of threat capabilities and dynamics. Having strong intelligence networks and support is vital to support Executive Protection risk mitigation.

Highly Trained and Experienced Personnel:

You wouldn’t ask your mail carrier to cook a four course meal, so you shouldn’t ask a security generalist to provide specialized assistance without the requisite subject matter expertise.

No matter how much a protection team knows about the area or the threats, they can be scarcely effective without substantial preparation. Training the team prior to any detail can be helpful in preparing them for threats. Ensuring they are capable with escape and evasive driving, firearms and unarmed control techniques, medical knowledge, working under pressure, effective communication, including de-escalation techniques, and attention to detail are all vital.

Intellectual training is the process of preparing mentally for any given situation, and actively predicting the course of a specific threat and the corresponding response to those threats. Whether it is firearm training, creating “what-if” scenarios, operating walkthroughs or executing dry runs, intellectual training ensures that executive protection is prepared and ready to be offered at any given moment.

Additionally, understanding different recommended formations when walking with an executive, how to appropriately scope out an area before the principal arrives and escape/evasive and defensive driving training are vital for the close protection team. Knowing how to ram a vehicle if there is one in the way or being able to avoid a situation where a vehicle may try to trap the individual is especially important.

Beyond training, the security team should have extensive security experience from which to draw. Whether they are former military or former police, it is important that the team has an understanding of security and what they need to do to provide executive protection.

Prior to any executive protection assignment, the team must effectively plan and familiarize themselves with the job. Understanding the region/area they are going to, the threats they may face and ensuring that the entire team is properly trained for the assignment are vital. Failure to do this can have disastrous results.

Whether it is protecting international travelers, assessing a potentially threatening situation or preparing for a high risk engagement in between, executive protection offers a peace of mind that is invaluable in the service industry. The safety service offered with executive protection is undoubtedly, undeniably and unquestionably worth the peace of mind that comes with it.

G4S Academy Specialist


Executive Vice-President, G4S Corporate Risk Services at G4S. Throughout his career, Mr. Dodge has managed and operated on security and investigative projects in more than 60 countries around the world. He also has specialized expertise in corporate investigations as well as risk, vulnerability and threat assessments.