By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 560

Experienced Corporate SecurityLanguage is always developing and as business and social structures change, so do the meanings of many terms.  In the security and protection industry, two terms that are sometimes used interchangeably, “bodyguard” and “executive protection,” really have quite different meanings. As the security and protection landscape evolves, these terms have become even further apart in their meaning and application. To limit the confusion, we thought a little clarity from inside the industry might be helpful.

Bodyguard is an older more general term, that over time has suffered a bit based on the stereotype. The image is clear. We hear the term bodyguard and we imagine a menacing brute standing in front of their client with a “don’t even try it” look on his face. While the job description may require putting one’s own body in between the client and any potential harm, this is an outdated, brawn over brains approach that could escalate a conflict. Also, merely guarding a body is far from representing the full scope of protection needed by today’s VIP, executive, dignitary and celebrity clients. While an imposing presence is fine, an authoritative, professional presence that projects vigilance and training is the right choice for your VIP.

An untrained bodyguard will typically react to threats with immediate brute force which is not only dangerous, but a clear liability. In fact, if you hire some big guy from the local gym, that may be the extent of their abilities. An executive protection specialist, on the other hand, is thoroughly trained to work as an individual or as part of a seamless personal protection unit to mitigate threats or risks through careful planning and awareness. True specialists are trained not only in physical defense techniques, but in a host of other de-escalation methods as well.

For example, while they are trained in the use of firearms, an executive protection specialist is also trained to anticipate challenges and remove the client from harm before ever needing a weapon. Specialists are trained to evaluate situations for threats before they occur, by using mental and visual perimeters around their client as protective zones or layers. They may also be trained in specific subjects, like cultural sensitivity, technology, evasive driving, counterterrorism, advance planning, bomb sweeps and many other special skills required in today’s volatile environment.

With training comes expense, and as expected, the rates for a quality personal protection agent or team are going to be significantly higher than an untrained bodyguard. Most states have licensing requirements in order for someone to be certified in personal protection services, and various levels of certification are typically available. As is the case with most industries, individuals with a desire for career advancement and employment stability can pursue any number of levels of accreditation. Schools like Executive Security International in Colorado offer a variety of certification levels with course like the Executive Protection Program consisting of a 28 day residency.

The bottom line is, you get what you pay for when it comes to personal protection services. With the complexity of today’s security environment –technology, terrorism, advanced weapons – it just does not make sense to hire an untrained person to keep yourself, loved ones or VIP safe and secure. If you have a need for personal protection, we encourage you to be clear about your situation and discuss the solutions with a qualified personal protection specialist.