Saturday, January 19, 2008

Executive Protection - Risky Business

I recently read about a bodyguard who was killed while protecting American government VIPs in Iraq. He was shot in the neck, which was the only part of his body that was not protected by body armour. Clearly, the individual who killed him was a highly-trained sharp shooter. At this level of Executive Protection, the “bad guys” become more dangerous, better trained, and even more ardent in their efforts. These types of assignments are designated as “high risk.” The bodyguard was no doubt superbly trained and skilled, and had in fact been honored and medalled by the Queen of England for his work. And still, he was killed on the job. He was only 45, and leaves behind a young wife who is devastated. I thought it time to address the part of Executive Protection Services that is often overlookedâ€"the inherent risks associated with this line of work. I recall when I was first hired to work as a bodyguard to Prince. To many, his arrival on the music scene was exciting and ground-breaking and to most fans, “Purple Rain” was a musical phenomenon. The downside was a certain segment of the population viewed Prince as “the Anti-Christ.” I thought I had the greatest job in the worldâ€"great pay, and of course the cachet of being one of the bodyguards for the hottest performer of that time. I also clearly remember the time we went to a concert venue and had to do a security sweep with bomb-sniffing dogs because there’d been religious zealots who thought Prince represented evil and claimed bombs had been placed at the venue to try and prevent the concert. That was the day I realized that this was not a “fun-and-games” job. I realized that this high-paying job comes with a very high price tag: potentially the loss of my life. Now, for the most part, protecting a celebrity is not deemed “high risk.” (Those assignments usually go to individuals with a good deal of military training and the paychecks for those jobs are staggering because of the level of risk involved.) However, even when working as a celebrity bodyguard, there were a certain number of people who were a potential risk to be around. I remember a individual in Atlanta who approached me and told me “God had commissioned her to kill Prince.” We took every threat very seriously. We just never knew. Being associated with a celebrity meant that we were all targets. It really hadn’t occurred to me when I signed on to work for Prince. I thought I was invincible. I don’t know that this business is the right fit for an individual with a family. Granted, the paycheck can be lucrative and alluringâ€"but remember, if you have a wife and children, it is not your life alone that is impacted, should you be wounded or killed on the job. The risk is very real and the consequences can be far-reaching. Just as Law Enforcement officers are putting their safety and very life on the line every day, Executive Protection can mean you are taking the blow (or the bullet) for your employer. It’s something to think about. Harlan V. (Hucky) Austin has acquired over 20 years of field experience as a Close Protection Operative/Bodyguard, seven years of which he served as Director of Security Services for Paisley Park Productions. Foremost in his duties at Paisley Park was assuring the safety and welfare of the musical artist Prince, as well as celebrities with whom Prince collaborated or associated with â€" Lenny Kravitz, Madonna, Morris Day, Sheena Easton, George Clinton and Kim Basinger to name a few. bodyguardcareers.com

1 comment:

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