In this podcast, James will share his thoughts on how to onboard a client who requires protection or residential security together with the value for the protective intelligence requires to support those tasked with protecting others.
He discusses the skills required and training needed, the Theory of Controlled Spaces and the key aspects of the arrivals and departure zones, white space and some of the research from Gavin de Becker’s ‘Just 2 Seconds’ book.
This podcast is a must for anyone involved in the close or residential protection industry as well as those involved in delivering protective intelligence.
James leads Gavin de Becker’s Protection Quality team which conducts audits of GDBA’s protective programs to ensure their strategies align with their clients’ unique needs and to ensure their protectors meet their training and fitness standards and their certification requirements. He also manages the review of emergency incidents at their clients’ properties with the goal of enhancing their service to their clients.
James co-created GDBA’s Active Shooter Prevention and Response methodology.
He has trained thousands of employees at Fortune-500 companies, schools, universities, police departments, and government agencies in the U.S. and internationally on advanced concepts related to protection, including Active Shooter, Surveillance Detection, Attack Recognition, Foreign Weapons, Executive Protection, and Travel Safety.
He is also an Instructor at the GDBA Essential Protection Skills Academy and their Advanced Threat Assessment Academy.
One of the world’s true experts on protection, James was recruited from the FBI, where he created and developed the Academy’s Close Protection Course, currently taught to protectors of the U.S. Attorney General, the Director of the FBI, the NSA, and the NYPD, among other agencies.
A few other highlights from his career:
· Hand-selected for the FBI Tactical Training Unit, responsible for creating and developing the FBI Active Shooter training and guidance program.
· Certified FBI Instructor in Firearms, Active Shooter, Tactical Skills, Emergency Driving, and SWAT Operations.
· Four years on the Protection Team for the FBI Director, and three years on the Joint Terrorism Task Force that he was selected to create after 9/11.
James holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina. He is a member of the ASIS Executive Protection Council, and he is certified as an instructor in Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT).Support the show
So Hello again and welcome to the online bodyguard with Philip Grindell from Defuse® and today I have a very special guest, James Hamilton. So James is the Senior Vice President of Quality Protection and training at Gavin de Becker associates. I'm going to read James's bio, because it's a really quite extraordinary bio with huge amounts of experience and expertise and it deserves being read out because it's, it deserves the credit that it needs. And so let me read this out to you. James leads the protection quality team, which conducts audits of Gavin de Becker associates protective programmes to ensure their strategies aligned with their client's unique needs, and to ensure their protectors meet their training and fitness standards and their certification requirements. He also manages the review of emergency incidents at their clients properties with the goal of enhancing their services to their clients. James co created their active shooter Prevention and Response methodology. He's trained 1000s of employees at Fortune 500 companies, schools, universities, police departments and government agencies in the US and internationally, on advanced concepts relating to the protection of including Active Shooter, surveillance, detection, attack, recognition, foreign weapons, executive protection and travel safety. He's also an instructor at their essential protection skills Academy, and their advanced threat assessment Academy. He is one of the world's true experts on protection. James was recruited from the FBI, where he'd previously created and developed their academies close protection course, currently taught to protectors of the US Attorney General, the director of the FBI, the NSA, and the NYPD, amongst other agencies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina. He's a member of ACEs executive protection council, and he's certified as an instructor and advanced law enforcement, rapid response training called alert with two hours as a hell of a resume. James. Thank you, sir. So it's really great. So Jenna, and you know, you are one of the world's true experts on this subject. And that's why it's going to be so interesting, because what what we what we want to talk about, and we've chatted about this previously, and I'm delighted that we're both as fascinated as interested in the same subject is, is the what we've come to call the strategy and protection. So that's that's kind of go from something that I think that I know is really passionate to you. And that is, you are an FBI agent working in protection, their protection details within the FBI with all the government resources available to you. And then you move into the private sector. Tell me about the differences, you know, when you're working for, for a private sector. Let's be honest, if one of the most reputable ones in the world, and you come out the FBI, is it the same what's different?James Hamilton:
Right? Well, the the taxpayers don't get a vote is the first thing I would say is the US government, the taxpayers are footing the bill, and they have no idea whether that agents competent or not. And they don't get to say yes or no, and they don't get a vote. Whereas in the private sector, the client votes every single day with their pocketbook. So that was one of the biggest things is the resources that you do not have in the private sector versus what we had in the government. If, you know, I was on advanced, and I said, I need five agents, I'd get five agents and there wouldn't be any questions. It's just not that way. And the private sector is totally different. So you have to do things differently. And I would tell you that I was very slow to learn most of this, you know, I, I came from the the FBI tactical programme. I was a SWAT guy, that's where they always recruited from to be on protection. Because in America, you know, we equate guns to protection, which you know, that's a whole segment, we could do a whole podcast on that. And I really can't believe that, and I didn't really understand anything about strategy. The reason I had to create a school is because we didn't really have a school. I mean, that's kind of the answer on that resume is we were kind of just on the job training and couple PowerPoints and we were off and running. But I had to create an actual school to train these folks from the lessons I had learned. And that's probably not the best way to do business. You know, it reminds me a lot of the Alfred Harryhausen assassination you know if you're familiar with that one and you know send in GSG, nine and to do a close protection mission and they didn't really understand route analysis that will kind of the same deal. You know, I learned an awful lot about like what Gavin does, through Making mistakes. And then, you know, creating the school and reading his books and starting to really understand protect your strategy, how I might have done some things that had a turn, I didn't know what they I didn't know how to turn, I just thought it was smart. So I'm happy to talk about all that. But yeah, to answer your question, specifically, the biggest differences, resources, the biggest differences getting buy in from a client and, and getting them to pay them on pay the freight, you know,Philip Grindell:
and in terms of the information that's available to you to analyse threats, that must be quite different as well.James Hamilton:
It is, well, there's two, two things on that one is in the private sector, you know, and today and 2022, there's so much more available than there was to me, you know, back when I was in the government. So that's one thing there, it's very nice. In the private sector, they have the ability to now have like, we have a threat assessment division, that's, and we have a whole cadre of Threat Assessment Professionals over there. Whereas like in the government, it was just an ancillary duty for personnel to detail. So let's say one of the agents, you know, he had transport and the other agent was in charge of the guns and other days, you want to charge the medical programme? Well, one agent will charge a threat assessment, that's probably not the best way to do business, you probably need a dedicated full time person who understands, you know, threats, intelligence, and is calling that information. But, you know, we weren't doing it that way. I mean, they are doing it now, this, you know, it's been a while. But that's one of the biggest things I see is in the private sector, we do have the resources to access information, and use technology effectively, the government doesn't do a great job of that. And, you know, get that information out to the people that really need it.Philip Grindell:
Yeah. So I suppose I suppose what we can take away there for the they have the, they have the resources in terms of the number of people they can deploy on a detail, because they're not necessarily worrying about the bottom line when it's when it's within the government. But they may not necessarily have the same investment in the technology and the and the, the front end analysis and all that sector. So but in the private sector, we probably got we probably better or got more access to some of that technology and intelligence gathering and what have you, but less reliant on the physical assets that we're going to deploy?James Hamilton:
You have to be smarter. So when you have less resources or physical bodies doing that protection, well, then you got to force multiply, somehow, you do that through technology, you do that through information, you do that through working smarter, and you know, really being much more knowledgeable about the craft. Yeah, that's one of the big other separators Yeah, I think in the UK, you guys have an actual national standard for close protection officer, I think that's true. We don't have that in the US. Right. So that that's a that's a real thing. And we have to probably discuss some of that. No, US there's no US licence for a proposed protection officer, every state's a little bit different. You know, so for us, you know, we got to train everyone ourselves internally, and make them smart about the criticality of protective intelligence, you know, how that forms a strategy? What is the threat, you know, all those things, you know, and that kind of feeds into proper protection with less resources. If you got 100 guys on a detail or girls on a detail, you know, well, you know, they can probably forget protective intelligence, because they got so many people, I call that being in love with the profile. By the way, there's a name for that. And I don't think that's the best way to do business. But when you have 100 agents out there, and you can tow every car in the street, well protected intelligence is less important to you, you know, frankly,Philip Grindell:
so so just to be clear that so in the US as I understand it, you need a licence to be a private detective. Yeah, but you don't state by state. Generally speaking, you didn't licence to be well, first you need licence to carry a weapon presumably or to be to conceal weapon.James Hamilton:
Well, to do protective work with a gun, you need a lot. Yes, but there are some if you're just a citizen want to carry gun, there's some states that just allow it, you only need a permit. So whenPhilip Grindell:
you're by state, so just let's move on. And so when we're, you're recruiting people into your academy when you're looking at, okay, you know, what are you actually looking for? What's the sort of baseline of what you're expecting to see that you're then going to train?James Hamilton:
Okay, for for us for 41 years, we've pretty much identified, you know, our niche, right, what type of clients are attracted to our folks so we are definitely looking for a certain look. So before they even come to us, they have to do a physical fitness test period. So they have the pass that even come to us and so once they've passed that that's on you either in person or videotaped. Then when they come to us, you know, we begin the training, but it's not like The military or police academy, where you have a job, and then we're just training you to put you on a detail. Now we're still looking at you and evaluate you because you know, it's a business, maybe it doesn't work out. And maybe there's not a spa. But we were training with them all about mindset. Getting them knowledge, first of all, Are you smart? That's the very first thing I'm looking for. Are you smart. And we learned that through our recruitment process, how intelligent they are in communication, written and verbal and zoom, because being smart is critical. I can teach you how to, you know, pull ups, running, shooting, all those things, you know, we can teach you a lot of that. But you got to be intelligent, right? So that's the very first thing we're looking for. Are you smart enough to understand the job, and the risks that come with the job, and then we train them on the physical aspects, the hard skills, those types of things, but at the end, it's really about the brain, How smart are these people? And those are the ones you know that for me, that's what I want to hire.Philip Grindell:
And so So what sort of qualities is that mean, then, in terms of when you're looking at an individual? I mean, presumably, you must have a high intake from the military and from law enforcement, but you must get quite a lot of people also come from backgrounds where they've got no previous military or policing experience.James Hamilton:
Yeah, it's very rare. And I, I apologise, I should have answered that question a little bit more succinctly. And that we, we have very, very similar standards to law enforcement and military in the US, meaning, you know, you can't come to us with a criminal background, you have to be able to pass a polygraph background investigation, you can't have a bunch of arrests, you know, drug use all of those kinds of standard things. And so we are literally competing for the same type of individual that the police departments are looking for the FBI, fire department, and so that that's a big piece of, you know, there's a competition for this talent, because, you know, it's not as prevalent as it used to be, there's great studies about the, you know, us what's going on in the US with regards to height and weight standards, and all those things. So we are definitely competing for those people, that's what we're looking for. And then once we can kind of get that initial, you know, kind of think about a mould, you know, get that initial piece of clay. And then we're going to start to, you know, kind of input a lot of information and how do they take it? Are they smart? You know, we do peer evals in their class, you know, hey, who would you most like to work with? Who would you least like to work with? Well, that matters. You've been on protective details. That's critical. If a guy is nice and friendly instructors, but he's a real jerk. Back in the barracks? Well, that's a problem. And we're immersive. So we're, we have a barracks where our people are living there. They're not going to hotel at night, and just putting on a show for us for eight hours. No, it's it's full on. And we'll see, we'll see in that, during that time, whether you're cut out for this work or not, because some people just aren't, you know, that's one thing I like to tell them is, you know, the, the work itself is different. You know, I was going to enter 97 days, my first year on a protected detail, it's hard on family, you're living another person's life, it's very, very difficult. It's not for everybody, this job is not for everybody, it really, really, you know, it is very difficult being a close protection person. So, you know, for everyone listening to does it, you have all my respect, because it's not an easy job.Philip Grindell:
And it's interesting, isn't it when I've never been a protection officer, but I've worked with quite a lot of them. And I, you know, I know that a huge amount of work that is done is is research and reconnaissance and pre work. And then there's an awful lot of work as well, when you're sat in a corridor, for instance, or you're sat outside a meeting room, or you're, you know, you're not, it looks like you're not doing anything. But actually you have to still remain switched on. You know, when when you're sat outside a corridor and your principals asleep overnight, you're not just sat in a corridor, you're actually there for a reason. So that's that mindset, again, about being switched on. It's not all glamorous, it's not like the TV or the, or the film shows. And so you have to be patient, I guess. And you have to have other qualities that that require self discipline,James Hamilton:
discipline, and you have to, you know, we talk a lot about ethos, and virtues. And I think unfortunately, people throw those words around, like everyone has virtue or ethos, they don't, I'm just telling you people either live by that, or they don't, they don't just everyone doesn't just have those things. But courage, you know, duty, honour, integrity, those types of things are real, and some people live by them and some do not. And that's what we're looking for. We're looking for all of those things. But courage being probably the biggest, you know, I always say, hey, when uh, you know, it's three in the morning and a guy jumps the fence and he's coming to the house, and you're at, you know, law enforcement is not close enough. Do you have the courage to go stop that individual? Because there's no hell, you know, you may be in a situation where you're, that's it, you know, and you have the courage to go out there and put it on the wall. A lot of people don't, you know, and we trained for that we do a lot of, you know, very interesting training, I'm sure you've seen it online. I mean, we do stress inoculation with attack dogs, and we do a lot of stuff to try to test courage. Because we need to know, can you stand where other people, you know, and people don't want to stand there, okay, when you're getting shot at or you're taking, you know, whatever's coming at you at the motorcade, or at the walk information. A lot of normal people don't want to stand there, they don't want to turn and face, you know, the bad guy like Tim McCarthy on the Reagan shitty, you know, they don't want that's not, you know, humans are all about protecting yourself, right. And that's how we're conditioned. So you got to be willing to turn and protect that principle that protect you, we call them. And that's very rare. That's, you know, everyone doesn't have that. And so, you know, we're really testing courage and looking to see Do you have what it takes to go do what we're asking you to do? Yeah, not easy.Philip Grindell:
Would I be right in saying that, that even though that's a key quality, that the the, the reality is that those incidents are still rare. And the vast majority of your work is, is not really doing that it's probably defusing hostile situations, or arguments or difficult people or whatever?James Hamilton:
Yeah, it's a lot of logistics. And it's a lot of, you know, interpersonal skills as a lot of dealing with, you know, EAS or House State managers, or, you know, changes of schedule and luggage count. I mean, a lot of these other things, you know, it's very rarely you're dealing these attacks and all that stuff. But the challenge is, is that if you think your job is just to do logistics, and you fall into that complacency, and then you're snapped right back into it, when that guy jumps the gate, or the guy comes at the motorcade, you know, well, it's on. And that's the challenge, you know, we talk a lot about being well called the now we trained for that we purposely try to take a student out of the now and make them think about something else, and then we attack, because that's the discipline. All right, that's the reality is you're standing there for three, four or five hours, your feet are hurting, your wife's nagging you because you're missing the kid's birthday, for the fourth time, you know, you've been on detail for years, and you got to have the discipline to not listen to that crap. Well, first of all, don't look at your phone, right and do what you're being paid to do. And believe me, that is just not easy. That's why again, I give all the shout out and to all the projectors out there, especially again, that get our guy, guys and girls. I mean, thank you. Not easy, it is just not easy.Philip Grindell:
And also, we talked beforehand about this whole thing around the protective intelligence and understanding what actually why you're there.James Hamilton:
Right? Yeah, well, that's kind of the beginning, right? So engineering will, will tell us all that, you get that information, you put the put the best stuff in to get the best product out. So for me on the intake, what we would call client intake, we, in a engagement, a lot of times it happens because you know, they're unhappy with who they have, or they just think they need protection or whatever, or something's actually happened, there's been a threat, there's been a guy at the door or, you know, email phone call letter, that's one of the very first things we want to understand is, you know, what is the threat to you? Has there been a recent risk assessment? Can we see it? How did you fill those gaps, you know, what's going on with you? Because we have to form that and I asked every protector on an audit my company or other companies, Hey, what is the threat to protecting? Right? And I want to hear, okay, well, they're high net worth individual there's a kidnapping concern, or there's a violence concern, or there's an assassination concern, what I don't want to hear or even a medical concern, let's say they have some type of ongoing medical condition, and they've hired, you know, a protective firm to to keep them safe, because they can't hire a doctor or whatever. I always want to know that. And if the if they say to me, well, there's no threat. I always say, Well, you might want to check yourself, because if there's no threat, there's no need for you to be here. Right? There has to be a reason there has to be something going on. And you need to know what that is what what's terrible, I think, is when I find protectors, who are who just say, Well, I'm not sure I just got hired for the day. Not my company. We don't want to do audits of other companies. I'm like, well, that's not very fair. Because you don't even know what you're going up against. You know, that's, that's, that's not right. So I'd like to understand that first. And then then we kind of go through the process of you know, are we the right match? Because, you know, we're very different and, you know, we do things differently.Philip Grindell:
So what's the difference in between? A, and I'm going to kind of paint a probably a bit of a generalisation here, but what's the difference when a trained person who is a close protection operative and one of these guys we see with a celebrity who's kind of eight foot tall in sunglasses and and, you know, maybe a previous doorman or something but you know, is he a bodyguard or is your mind or is there a difference between those two terms?James Hamilton:
Um, I think it's all kind of I think it's semantics. You know, I don't know how these folks are trained. Just because someone's large. I don't know if they've been trained or not I, you know, maybe they have, for us, me for me. Of course protection person, protector bodyguard, is an individual that has been trained in the art of protecting human beings who has dedicated their life to have meaning this is all they do. I would say that if you're a police officer off duty, which, you know, we can look at all kinds of examples of that, especially in the US where they say, Well, he's the bodyguard. Well, no, he's not. Okay, that's not fair. I saw a LinkedIn post the other day about an individual say, and you know, these protection fails. And they listed out incidents, right? Well, Salman, Salman Rushdie, is not a protection fail, because he didn't have close protection people assigned to him. Right. So that's not fair. Right. He had a state police officer, police officers in the back of the crowd doing security for the event, it's not fair to call that a protection fail, because they didn't have close protection officers there. So for me, that's, that's what we do. We broad brush these things. But that's not to me what a bodyguard is, you know, you can be eight feet tall or huge, like you see. And not be a bodyguard, you're just basically been told, you know, hey, you're doing my security, but you have no training, you have no background, you have no equipment, you really have no idea what you're doing. I call that the turtle on the fence. And for many of your listeners, they may be from the UK. I don't know if you know what that means. In the south. You know, if that's where I'm from, in the US, if you see a turtle on the fence post, well know some things, you know that you know, that turtle didn't get up there on his own. And some faster put him up there. And that turtle has no idea what he's doing. Right. And I sometimes say you know that unfortunately, there are people in close protection or the bodyguard world, especially us, who are the turtle on the fencepost. A client has said, Oh, you're my bodyguard. And he's just standing out there. And he really doesn't know what he's doing. And it's not his fault. Well, I guess it's his fault. But he hasn't been trained. But again, because if nothing ever happens, and he assumes I've done a great job, and the client starts to say, oh, yeah, he's doing great. And I'm paying him five bucks now or so it's awesome. Yeah. Until what? Until it's not until something happens.Philip Grindell:
So that leads us on to this to this other subject, which I know you and I have talked about, which is about value, and about return on someone's investment within that industry. And I'll preface this by saying, you know, I've had a conversation in the last few weeks with people in the UK, where they've expressed concern about the reason people get the role in in some of the close protection, residential security is not based on competence. It's based purely on price. And it's about bums, fitting seats, rather than the quality of the professional that they're being employed. So how do it how does it How does a security provider demonstrate value?James Hamilton:
Right? Well, it's, it's that daily, you know, a daily interaction with a client, first of all, the first impression they have is it and that's what when we do an intake, we explain exactly how we're different. And these folks are protectors, meaning this is their job. And this all they do, okay, and you're going to be getting, you know, kind of the best that we can offer you and you make the decision every day, you can tell whether this individual is good. I tell clients all the time, you know, you can tell right away if this is a quality individual or not. And they're like, Well, I don't know anything about protection. Yeah, well, you know, people, and you know how to make a first impression, right? And so that's like, firstly, they take an appearance, they look at him go, okay, and he's, you know, on time, he's professionally dressed. He's, you know, in this is a big one, and I really want to touch on this for a moment. But our industry does not help ourselves at all, when we break confidentiality. Okay, when we start talking about the things we saw with whatever, protect D, we kill ourselves, because the one thing we're trying to establish is trust. Right? It is extremely difficult to develop and get trust from another human being. Right. And so yeah, they might be paying for you, but they're not going to fully trust you. They don't even know you. Right. And so if you tell them on the front end during the intake, hey, by the way, we have this confidentiality agreement, you know, ours is 50 years. If anyone violates that we're going to fire them, you know, like, okay, that starts to develop a little bit of trust because they don't want their stuff out there. Right. That's part of being a bodyguard discretion, not telling everyone what you see that's important right there because we want the client to trust us and so Oh, you know, that's a big piece of it. And then the return on the investment piece is okay. If if you, you know, how do you show them value? Well, a lot of it is efficiency, you know, just making their life easier getting from point A to point B faster and more efficient, safer all those things. But for the accountants, or what we call the bean counters, you know, at the end of the year, they look at this huge security budget and like, well, what are we getting for that? Right? And, well, if you're not banging them every day, with reports, emails, activities, and nothing you like, I've done audits of teams. And they've said, well, we don't do a report, unless something happens. Wow, well, in this business, you might not have anything happened for the whole year. And if that, if that's your reality, the accountant at the end of the year is gonna have nothing to go on, what have you done, versus, you know, if you're talking about a daily activity report, you're talking about a threat assessment report of all of your known threats, how those things are meeting with your protective team that goes into daily activity report that you're looking for this individual that was spotted at the client's business, and now they might be in the client's neighbourhood, as you know, you know, time and distance from those two things is a problem. You now you're getting somewhere now you're showing, hey, you know, we contacted this individual, because we were notified that he had been suspiciously acting at the client's business. And now he's showing up at the home and contacted law enforcement, he was interdicted, blah, blah, blah, now they start to see the value, right? One of my favourite things is when I read a client say, you know, I'm so glad you're here, I wouldn't know what to do without you. That's, that's how I know, okay, we're doing the right work. They're starting to trust us they understand, you know, what we provide, it's not just the bullets and the vest, and all that, no, it's a logistics is to trust that they have that you can safely move them from point A to point B, you know, and if you can do it quicker, as you know, in a business world, that's great, that's return on investment, you know, especially when that guy, you don't want that guy driving, you know, if you're a billionaire, and you're driving to work, how much money they make an hour or minute, it's a lot. So, you know, let let us drive you it's a lot safer, and you can get more work done. But that's how, you know, I think you show return on the investment. Yeah,Philip Grindell:
so it's a really interesting point about trust, because I, as you know, I was an investigative detective, so I investigated everything from child abuse upwards, and, and sometimes people would come to us and they would, they wouldn't tell you everything upfront that was going on, they would drip feed something into you, to see how you responded with that. And you know, whether it was confidential, etc. And only when they trusted you would they then start actually revealing the real issues. So I guess your perspective is the same in terms of once you've got that trust, only then perhaps they then start opening up and telling you what's really bothering them? Or what's what's really been going on in that dynamic. Or,James Hamilton:
there's a lot of there's a lot of nuance here. I mean, you know, in the sector, you know, what we do, you know, you might have a director, security's hiring you to do the protective work. And you may not even meet with that client. And you know, that first time you meet with that client is, you know, Monday morning at 8am, you're picking them up, and they're like, who are you? Well, you know, I was just hired by your director of security. Well, that's a very difficult situation, because this principal has no idea who you are, he just, I guess, trust this director of security to put you on there. You know, to me, you gotta get some, some some FaceTime. You know, we would like to with the client to understand, you know, what is going on with you, right, because they keep things close. And you might have a director of security or the corporate entity, they don't know about the threats that are going on at the home, you know, you need to know that as professionals, right. And so we do start to see those things. But again, like you said, they're not going to open up until they trust that you're not going to be spread. You know, that's very, very important. And if you can't show confidentiality, I and you're, you know, if you're doing a situation where every day they're just hiring retired or an off duty police officer, just sit outside the house, you're not gonna know anything. I don't tell you anything. You're just some dude out in a car. You know, I That to me is probably not the best way to do it. But people do it that way.Philip Grindell:
So when you when it says your training courses, you obviously have a training course that is for the bodyguards. Is the residential security. Is that a same? Is that part of that or is that a complete separate entity?James Hamilton:
It is it is part of that? Because in the private sector, you know, it's all a cart, meaning a client may pay just for residential security. It may pay for field coverage, they may fit pay for Office coverage they may pay for just travel coverage, right so it's an ala carte. And obviously, we prefer a full on everything. And that's not a money thing, it's really just from a proper security protocol piece. You know, if I like I was kind of given the example earlier, if I have a suspicious person showing up at the business, and then that same, you know, that individual, let's say the security of the office is my are my people, then they, you know, communicate that out to the team. And now the residential team is not looking for that individual. And then we see that car, okay, now, we're way ahead of the game, in the planning process, you talk to the planning cycle tech cycle, we can stop that very, very early, if you've got a corporate security team doing the coverage, and another company doing the coverage at the residence, and maybe, you know, there's another maybe just a chauffeur driving, well, there's a lot of eyes out there, and they may not be communicating what they're seeing, versus, you know, if I'm driving him, you know, I will see that guy parked down, you know, in the, you know, right near the home, in what we call red zone, and I'm gonna get that licence plate, and I'm gonna give it to the guys at the residence, I'm gonna tell the guys of the company, hey, look out for this car. You know, though, that's proper protection. And that, to me is a full time operation. But it's very expensive. And so yeah, it's all a cart back to your question. At our training academy, they get it all because we don't know where they're going. Right. So in our, our initial, we actually have four academies. So it's a two year process. So we do a lot of training of our personnel. That's not standard. It's not well, there's no standard in the US. So that's just what we did.Philip Grindell:
And so when we get into the kind of the more detailed part of some of the skill sets and the the technicalities of what you do, talk to me about things like you know, the control spaces, how you construct, you know, the theory of that, how do you manage that? What is what does, what does that look like?James Hamilton:
Right? Well, we want to, you know, we want to maximise our time and control areas, okay? That can be the home, that can be the office, that could be a venue hotel, that you've advanced, and you've got personnel waiting, you know, those are controlled venues, patrol spaces, we want to minimise our time in the uncontrolled areas, walking from the car to the venue, just walking the street, I mean, history's respite with individuals who are just walking in the street and get assaulted. And it could not just be an attack by a knife gun spray could be an embarrassment type of an attack, you know, with an egg or milkshake like, you know, Nigel, Farage had, and I think that was London, you know that those uncontrolled spaces, we want to stay out of those. And one of the, you know, a good example for me, I didn't even know what that was called. But when I was an FBI, you know, we would routinely stop in transit to get the boss coffee, while he's in an armoured vehicle, right. So, one day, I was like, well just keep them in there. And I'll run in, I'll grab the coffee, because the teams, you know, in the trucks with him, and I'll bring the coffee. Yeah, yeah, I didn't know what that was called. That's actually called the Theory of control spaces. But I didn't know that. I just didn't think it was a good idea for him to go to that uncontrolled Starbucks in Washington, DC. And then I handed him the coffee, and we went on our merry way. That's what I'm talking about. Right? Don't increase your risk by putting your principle into an uncontrolled space if you don't have to. And so, by the way, a lot of these clients, they don't want to do that, right? Because they want to be out there. They want to be normal, if you will, they won't be able to walk around and shocked. And if you're telling them, hey, we'd like to speed this up those types of things. Well, why are they going to do that? Well, first thing is they have to look at you as a professional. If you're the guy that just carries the shopping bags, and helps them shop, they're not gonna look at you as a professional, but they're just not they're looking at you as an assistant, then they have to also know that, you know, you know what you're doing, meaning you've been trained, and in some way, and you know, you've got an intelligence fee telling you, hey, this area is a little bit concerning, because, you know, people could get assaulted, not because of who they are, but just because where they are, right. I mean, in America, there's certain cities where, you know, hey, I got to know the threat, just the general thread that's going on. So I can avoid that from my client, you know, it's not about them by name. It's just, hey, New York subway system is dangerous right now. So maybe I want to avoid that. So that's a big piece of their control spaces, you know, also, you know, create the same we call whitespace. You know, create distance around the Protectee, especially, especially if you're doing something like known in advance Salman Rushdie that was known in advance, we all know the guy did pre operational surveillance the day before. So if it's something where they can set up on you ahead of time, you really need some strategy. And that all comes back to training, right? So if I said to your listeners, what's the difference between protective and projective coverage? I probably like I don't know what you're talking about. And if you go to another venue, most of the time in the US anyway, what I see It is security or law enforcement, if they're doing you know, some type of, you know, security for someone, they're usually out of position. They're not in protective coverages, you're close enough to protect, to protect the cover and evacuate from the threat projective coverages, you're going to the threat, you're going out into the crowd or at the crowd, or at that first person in that new front row, stopping the threat knife, the gun in our country, the egg is coming over. Well, when I say those two terms, if someone says, Well, I don't know what you're talking about, well, first of all, I know they don't really have any training. Or they they'll say one standard in no man's land, meaning you're in the back of the auditorium. Most law enforcement officers like to stand with their back to a wall. Why? Because they keep everything in front of them. Well, that's probably one of the worst positions to be standing as close protection person, because it's up there. That's where it is, you know, Gavin, my founder, my mentor, he says, Hey, we're being paid to block the layup like a basketball analogy. But you have to be on the court, you can't be in the stance. So a lot of protection people or sorry, a lot of people who are doing protection, not saying the protection, people are out of position. Okay. And so why is that? Well, it's either they're not trained properly, or this is more important. The client says, I don't want to see. Right, because they don't respect you. They don't respect you as bodyguard, they just think you're that dude that carries your shopping bag or whatever. And they'll tell you where to stand. That's probably not the way you want to do business. You know, like, if you study the 81 Reagan shooting, always talk about, you know, thank God, Jerry poor was as close as he was to Reagan, thank God, you know, I don't know, I didn't know their relationship. But if Reagan said, Hey, I need you to give me some space to let them take my photo. Well, if Jerry hadn't been right, where he was less than an arm's length away, you know, maybe Hinckley's accurate that day and in Regan dies. So I'm always grateful that Jerry Parr was that close. And sometimes you have to be that close. But a professional knows that and a person just kind of just playing it this or I have no training. They don't know where to stand. So that's, that's a huge piece of it. And that's what we teach, and we train, and it's all on our book, you know, I'm not kind of giving away any secrets. It's all in just two seconds. Gavin wrote, but it's, it's one of the only resources I'm aware of, you know, a study of more than 1400 attacks. And what did we learn? And I mean, I always tell people, I don't care if you work for me or not, if you're going to be a close protection officer read this book, right? And keep it as a reference. And you know, a lot of people like I'm good. And I say, if you're a close protection person, and you've never read that book, or referenced it, it's like a Christian who's never read the Bible. I don't know what you believe we'rePhilip Grindell:
talking about just two seconds away. Yes, sir. Because there's because it's too great. Yeah, there's just two seconds. And then there's a gift of fear, which are both, I think, seminal pieces of work in, in the kind of protective security industry. Yes, go back to one of the points. I mean, I think that must be where the kind of diplomacy and the communication skills has to come in when you have protect these who are used to getting their own way. Because either because of their prominence, their power or their wealth, and there's that difficult relationship where you know, you're the still the employee as a protector. But you have to have to take the leadership role and be able to say, I'm going to be in this position, and this is why I'm gonna be in this position. Because presumably, you're not and as I stipulate, I am not a trained protector at all in that in that environment. You know, the, the challenge would come when they say, No, I don't want you that I want you over there. And that becomes where the relationship breaks down. And where, where us your protector, as I've trained protector, has been a stand firm and explain I'm standing there these the reasons why.James Hamilton:
And I think it's, it's really, really dictated on your situation. And what I mean by that, very specifically, is gay and the government, okay, I can stand wherever I want. I can tell him whatever I want. Because he doesn't get a choice. A political appointee who gets a protective detail and the US government really doesn't get a whole lot of choice. Okay. He can't fire me, he can remove me, he can move me to somewhere else, but he really can't fire. Okay, so that's different. Then you've got you know, let's say you're a close protection firm with multiple clients, right? And you're an employee. And let's say you make that client angry, because you're gonna stand your ground just like what you're describing. In that client says I'm done with James, get him out of here. Okay, guess what, I can put James on another detail because I have multiple clients. James is probably more apt to stand his ground and say, No, I'm not going to stand in the back where he want me to then all way too, let's say you're working directly for that client. Okay, as a bodyguard plus protection officer, you're being paid by them. It is going to take an unbelievable amount of courage to say no to someone that's literally paying your bill directly. And those that do it, they're out there. I mean, I wish I give them all the respect in the world, but that the people that can do that I promise you have developed over the years with that individual trust. They respect their ability, their respect, their knowledge, they wouldn't, they wouldn't be doing that if, if they didn't need to write. In fact, your earlier question, I'm sorry, I didn't answer this as well as I like to have. Yes, we do hire a lot of military and former government folks, former law enforcement. But I tell you, the people that do really, really well for us are like a concierge at a four seasons. Right? They understand customer service. And there's a high degree of that in the private sector, that is part of our business. And I like those folks a lot. Because they understand how to talk to people, they understand that they have to provide a service, right? No offence to my military or my law enforcement, guys, but they don't understand that. They don't have to do customer service and law enforcement, you're getting paid no matter what. Well, you got to teach them that they think, Oh, I can I'm, I'm just doing what I'm going to do? Well, no, you got to give them customer service, or they're not going to keep paying us. So yeah, that's that's a big piece of it. So, again, based on your situation, I think it's a lot easier sometimes to stand your ground. But there are some situations where it's very, very difficult. And sometimes I don't, that's why you see some of the things you said,Philip Grindell:
and I guess that's why you have to compromise.James Hamilton:
Yeah, you can't be it's my way the highway, I mean, but when it happens, that's the other thing is they have to understand that. You know, let's talk about like an a covenant evacuation, the best tool that close protection officer has is the ability to cover and evacuate the principal from that environment, literally, physically pick them up and move on from the spot that what we call the ex? Well, that's not the time to have any, any discussion. No, right? They got to know, hey, if I got to move you, I'm gonna move. And we establish that very early on in our relationships. And I highly recommend that for any close protection officers who are listening, that client needs to know that if you have to move them, you're gonna move, and they don't get a choice. And that can be very, very difficult. But you don't have time to negotiate when a guy is coming at you with a knife or a gun or whatever.Philip Grindell:
So So just getting back to the point there. So that's a sort of conversation you would need to have at the at the outset. And and again, that goes about, about having FaceTime with the actual client, rather than just engaging with the director of security because the relationship between you the bodyguard and your client, who's the person you're actually protecting, they need to understand what you're going to do. And there's a really famous scenario here where you may be aware of this, James were members of the royal family used to go to the SS barracks in England. And they used to go through what the hell called the killing house, which is a place where, you know, the isas will go into when there's a hostage rescue scenario. And they did it so that Princess Diana, or whoever it was, knew what to expect, if that scenario played out. In fact, the famous scenarios they ended up setting fire to Princess Diana's air in there, but but on a grander scale, that's the same sort of thing in terms of the Protect, he needs to understand the rules of the game, what's going to happen in this scenario, I'm going to grab you, I'm going to physically lay hands on you, and shift you from A to B. And of course, there's all sorts of cultural challenges around that. Because, you know, us in the UK, a culturally diverse, lots of the clients may come from different cultural backgrounds where different rules apply. So you need to get that understanding out there that I'm only going to do this in these scenarios.James Hamilton:
Yeah, you know, I think, not work there. I've worked all over the world, and I love kind of the European model and how they do protection. It's, you know, there's a lot of nuance to it, but in the US, everything's gone, right? When I'm working in Japan, I'm not really worried about an arm attacking. I really shouldn't say that with a but that was a homemade gun. But I think your listeners understand the prevalence of that particular weapon, you know, in the US, like, it's everywhere, you know, everyone's got to go in so we, it's optically it's so much different, versus if I'm working somewhere else where it's probably gonna be an eye for you know, maybe just a, what we call a, you know, integrity or get an embarrassment attack with an egg or, you know, white paint or something. Which see a lot of that white paint in London for some reason. Anyway, yeah, it's it's definitely different. The gun thing for us is very, very concerning. That's why we have like 25 feet of whitespace. And handguns are, you know, obviously, are our real concern. Because there's more guns and people in our country, so.Philip Grindell:
So when I think I was gonna say when you look now then and you watch what's going on in the UK, then I don't know whether you've had a chance to watch some of the TV coverage of it, where the king, the new King of England, king of Britain, is, is meeting and greeting the public. And he's up close, shaking their hands, and, you know, taking flowers and what have you. And he's protected, I can obviously I can spot them, you probably can as well, are probably about a foot two foot away from him. They will be armed, but that will be concealed. But it's you know, people sometimes don't understand how that works in terms of putting allowing the King of England to be that close to the public in that environment, but that takes a certain sort of training and, and you have to wrap around. That's what he wants to do.James Hamilton:
Certainly, and, you know, I don't know what they're doing, because I don't know those folks. But more than likely they have plainclothes individuals who are kind of parallel and him as he's walking in there looking for pre incident anomalies, those types of things. But I always tell guys, look, if you ever think that you're going to stop and attack with your pistol, you're wrong. It is how I will just tell you statistically, because we we have we wrote the book, we've never seen that in the US where an assassination was stopped preemptively by the use of firearms. It's not happened. There have been some, I have some incidents in other parts of the world where that has happened. But in the US, it is not an if you look at the majority of assassinations or assassination attempts, it's a lot of bodies to the gun bodies to the Protect to the guy putting him down. Rushdie, you know, just happened, they didn't shoot that guy. They put him down, you know, Reagan, they didn't shoot Hinckley, they put him down. It's just very, very common because like in this scenario you were describing with the king, you know, shaking hands, whatnot, if there is a threat, a lethal threat, and the protection officer draws their weapon and shoots into that crowd. I'd say that's going to be very, very difficult. You don't want to hit the little six year old kid from you know, wherever she's visiting from, is probably not not a good idea. You know, it's covered evac, put your vest around that principle, get them to the hard car and get them out of there. It's not time to have a gunfight. I'm not saying that. I'm not saying that. I'm going to God is a some type of endurance. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying the over reliance on a gun is a hint. So that's a very, very big thing. I call it the American way, which is, you know, most unfortunately, a lot of individuals who hire protection, they'll say, Well, I want to make sure he's armed. Well, there's a lot of other things I'd like him to be, I'd like him to be smart, or she like him to be smart. I'd like them to be licenced I'd like them to actually have some education and background and close protection. I can give a damn monkey a gun doesn't mean they're doing a good bodyguard. It doesn't mean I want them around my family. There's just a whole lot of other things. But again, that's the American way. You know, we just equate guns to safety in this country. And I think that's wrong. Frankly, I think it depends on who has to go. So you know, like after parkland, they wanted to give teachers guns. Well, I don't know if that's a good idea at all. I don't know how to teach that matters, right. But I've seen it I've not done that, you know, Phil, and not to talk, you know, kind of, I'm not talking out of my mind behind here. I mean, if I got a minute, I'll just tell you what happened to me in London. In this. I mean, this is a true story in oh seven, I was in London doing an advance for the FBI director and we just had the seven seven bombings. Right, I was literally there so that he could talk to MI six and my five counterterrorism and the Met counterterrorism operations. And the bridge I was working with denied my, my request for this permit. Well, I lost my mind. I lost my mind saying that's bullshit, you know, how dare you bla bla bla, and because I had literally equated my protection ability to have in that. And they said no, and I had to do the mission anyway. And it was like this beginning for me, of, there's so much more to this business that you don't understand. You know, you think it's all about that. Well, if that's taken away from you, I call it the hammer doctrine. If that's taken away from you, now you're nothing and I don't like to feel like I'm nothing. Right. So that was a really great experience, even though I hated it at the moment because By now, you know, I mean, I still carry but it's all about logistics and planning and covering evac, you know, what's my response to a medical problem, you know, those types of things that aren't gun related. That's the job, you know, and it took me, it took me a while to learn that.Philip Grindell:
And I think that's such an important point, because it's, it's probably not what people think about when they think about a bodyguard. And I know, because I've worked with them about how much how much of that preparation work goes into, to a lot of that. And actually also, I mean, I appreciate not necessarily so much in the private sector, but certainly with some of the government teams, or what have you how much support you've got from other agencies and other police officers stopping them either side of the pavement, so that the principal can walk obstructed, etc. But, but I think your your, your point you've made a number of times about the, the intellectual side of being a protector, is is, is one thing that I think is really important that comes out of this is that it's so much about understanding the intelligence, understanding your role, understanding the relationship between you and your Protectee, understanding the area or in what's around you what the threats in around you, and as you pointed out, it may not be specific, it might just be location wise, you know, if you're going to certain parts of South America, they present a different risk just because of where they are, or parts of Africa or other parts of the world than London as an example. So there's lots of different one of theJames Hamilton:
one of the things I think about a lot is it, okay, if you don't know, if you don't know the game you're in, right? Then you're, you're really not playing it effectively. And what I mean by that is this is if you don't understand arrivals and departures, the most dangerous place to be for protecting, if you don't understand the theory of control spaces, if you don't understand whitespace, if you don't understand how protective intelligence feeds into, you know, that threat matrix and Hey, okay, he might be here, but this is where he's going to target me, you know, specifically the arrival, the elevator, the uncontrolled space, all that stuff, okay, then if you don't know any of that, okay, then what your whole plan is, is I'm just gonna be super vigilant, I'm gonna be ready for it anytime, anywhere accounts, right. And I know guys who operate like that. Okay, I would say that's not a good idea. Why, because you're low, you don't know the game you're playing, okay? And you're gonna have a heart attack, and no one could sustain that level of intensity. For an 1819 hour day, my folks are working those types of hours, okay, like in a field day, like, especially field detail, okay, you can't keep that intensity up, you just cannot, you're gonna have a heart attack. But if you know the game you're playing, right, and you can know when to turn that intensity up, like an arrival departure. Okay, now you're gonna really be effective.Philip Grindell:
And when we when we flip back, I mean, you've referenced it a couple of times, and I often reference it in what I do the attack on Reagan by Hinckley where, you know, for those who don't know, Hinckley was was obsessed by Jodie Foster, that was his motivation to attack Reagan. So no protective intelligence is going to tell you that's going to happen. So, you know, that attack was was, you know, you couldn't plan for it, you couldn't prepare for it because it was out of the blue top attack where there was no direct connection, so that the skill of the bodyguards was to respond to that bearing in mind, as you point out, no, no rounds were fired by them to cover Reagan and then to advance on Hinkley. But that is something I'm sorry, that requires real skill in terms of responding to that incident like that.James Hamilton:
Yeah, well, they did you know, so many things right that day. And I have been told I'm not I wasn't Secret Service, FBI. But I've been told by the Secret Service, you know, that they weren't even supposed to leave that day from the Hilton outside like that. They're supposed to go downstairs to the garage. But, you know, the staff and whatnot, had asked if they could go outside so that, you know, he's a politician so that he can be seen by the crowd? Well, they did some smart things, you know, they grabbed a rope from the, like, the cashier stand inside the Hilton, and they pushed the people back, they created whitespace. So that was very, very good. Tim McCarthy already had the door open. Huge deal. You know, I talk a lot about you know, do you leave the door open or close on arrival? And people will just look at me like, What do you mean? Oh, okay. My great, great friend. He said, you know, amateurs and chairs, talk tactics and professionals talk logistics, okay. So I'm going to ask you, logistically, you leave that door open or you close it on the limo, and if they say, well, we close it, I say, Okay, if you have to cover an evac back to the limo to your hardcore to your armoured vehicle, is it easier to get into an open door or a closed door under duress? And everyone in the room will say, Well, an open door, obviously, well, then why don't you leave the door, you know, the Secret Service to McCarthy already has it open, you can see any arrival departure, the president, they always have an agent holding that door 1,000% Because you can jam him in there, close that big, heavy door. If it's closed, now you're going to waste one thing, you don't have any, which is time, right. And so for me when I'm auditing a detail, and I see that they leave the door open, good, they close the door, maybe not so good. Or when they close them down, you know, if you let the principal in, and then you close the door in you should fully envelop that opening, right with your body armour. By times they do not have to know so I know, okay, there's, they're not trained very well, you know, but they did a lot of good things that day, Hinckley, you know, most of the times, they have to be very lucky. And he was very lucky and got to be able to be in that crowd. You know, they happen to go outside he happened to be on and all those things align for him. And he was actually accurate, but he was you know, he worked at trigger feel quick, he fires six rounds in less than two seconds. And 1.7 seconds, I think he was on that trigger. He's he's rocking that thing. And the guys just had to move, you don't have time to draw, get proper sight, alignment fire into a crowd? That's crazy talk, you're gonna hit three or four civilians, you know, and you can't do that here. I mean, it might be some countries, you can get away with that. You can't do that here.Philip Grindell:
That's nice. Fascinating, really, really fascinating. I think, you know, we've we've talked for nearly an hour, we could probably carry on for another hour, while certainly good listening to you because because I think what comes across to me from this conversation is to be a professional, close protection operative, is far more of a skilled profession, than people perhaps realise. There are so many more component parts to it than probably people realise. And it isn't. When it's done properly, you know, it isn't just about some big guy that's, you know, got a black belt and whatever else. It is my black belt in thinking and planning and all that before he has words about his martial arts potentially. And, you know, the issues around control spaces and white spaces, and all those various things, which make perfect sense. And our common sense with hindsight, I guess, I'd actually to have the ability for foresight and to be thinking about, about that all the time, and making sure that you're feeling about those things and planning those things. That's where the real skill and the professionalism comes into it.James Hamilton:
Yes, sir. And I love that black belt and thinking I just wrote that down. Use it if you want to. I love that.Philip Grindell:
Because it's, it's a fabulous job. That's brilliant. I really, really appreciate it. I know, you're obviously we get it, people will listen to this will know just how busy you are. And I'm, I'm grateful to Gabrielle and others too, for putting us together. I'm a huge fan of GABA Becker's work in terms of the two books you mentioned. And I'll add those to the link actually. Because I think if you're listening to this, and you don't have both of those books, I think you should go and buy both of those books, I often get asked by people. What sort of books should I buy? And I'm going to add those two, and I've got both, but I think I'm going to add those to my collection because I think they are key books. And even if you're not in this industry, even if you're just listening this because because you've stumbled across it, you know, certainly the gift of fear is a book where there's so much information there, I think, for just everybody to think about personal safety and some of the issues around that. We haven't even covered instinct and all those bits and pieces. But as I said he can go on forever. But But James, thank you so much. It's been an absolute pleasure and honour to chat to you and listen to you and hear about, about what the very best do and how the very best think and plan and behave and, and the qualities and you know, people people the issue around confidentiality, which is such, I think something is taken for granted. And in this country, we talked about have you got an NDA in place, which, which is frankly, a worthless document, but but actually the quality of confidentiality is, is worth more than having a piece of paper written on it. So thank you so much. I hope we can do it again. Sometimes I'm sure there's so much more we can we can talk about but Gavin, but James, any any last thoughts, any last? Any last points that I might have missed that you might want to get across or reinforce?James Hamilton:
No, just thank you to you for having me. And thank you for all the you know, the people that are listening, especially if you're a protector that you've what you do is very, very, a very difficult job. And I thank you all very, very much what you're doing out there because it's in my mind is a noble profession. It's been around for a very, very long time. And I often think if if I had been there with Caesar, I think I could have saved you.Philip Grindell:
Well, on that note, we'll definitely finish. Thanks very much.