I took my close protection course with Jon Porsch MBE’s “The Nemesis group” in 2006, where the instructors, a mix of CP 'originals' delivered a blend of skills, drills, theory, and most importantly ethos, that I now know were incredibly valuable. At the time I had no idea how privileged I was to be trained by these people, but as I went on to progress through my career in the private sector, I often thanked my good fortune for my mentors.
Fast forward 15 years, and the training landscape is almost unrecognisable.
As the owner of a private security company specialising in close protection services, my end product is people. Sure, it’s also a combination of the client’s user experience from first contact through to the deployment of a team, but ultimately our business is won or lost based on reputation. I.E. the ability of the men and women I provide to support and protect our client’s and their interests in the real world.
In late 2020 I launched an industry-wide mentorship initiative named “Project Insight”, with the intention of assisting newcomers to the industry in expanding on their knowledge and benefitting from the experience of established names within the close protection sector, who kindly offered their time and input. (Check the King Safety and Security LinkedIn page for further details if you would like to apply.) After mentoring several people, and speaking with the other mentors, one thing was clear – the training providers many of our mentees had used were guilty of wildly overpromising the prospect of work, and had not prepared them enough for the realities of life as a freelance close protection operative on the bottom rung of today’s circuit.
One popular provider had taken individuals with completely unrelated backgrounds, plonked them on an over-subscribed training course with instructors I would call inexperienced, and “strongly insinuated’ that they would be inundated with work once qualified. Surprisingly enough, this was not the case. In my opinion, this is tantamount to fraud.
So as a recruiter and operational company in an environment where competition for clients and contracts is keen, how do we ensure our “product”, the operators who represent our company, are capable enough?
The answer is, it takes effort, especially when operational demand grows and we require high quality operatives in greater numbers.
The assumption that somebody’s background is assurance enough, is both dated, and in my experience, untrue. A gleaming history in a special forces regiment or military /civ pol close protection unit, although a great foundation, does not automatically translate to the ideal close protection operative in the private sector. Not only that, but by overlooking individuals from more varied backgrounds you run the risk of missing a genuine talent. The modern CPO requires a range of abilities and skills, not all of which are readily available from traditional institutions.
So let’s take away the dated “former government only” or “ex-SF only” recruitment policies, which commercially and practically just don’t work, and let's agree that we can't consistently rely on training providers to deliver suitable operators on a platter. What are we left with?
Focussing on the individual.
To ensure we are using the best possible operatives for our clients, we need to go deeper, and assess. We need to get to know them, to check, test, and check again.
Not only do we need to test, but once a suitable candidate has been identified, we also need to offer our own company input and guidance, in abundance.
According to the SIA and the majority of training providers, close protection is a set of teachable techniques, procedures, and processes. This is true; however, I would argue that the significant difference between a “tick in the box” training provider and a great training experience is not only a solid grounding in skills, drills and theory, but by presenting an appropriate example of attitude, approach, ethos, work-ethic and humility to match.
The way that operatives have been taught, and in many cases have finessed their skills on the job, varies wildly, and that’s not ideal for a company brand. If I have two CPO’s on a client working week on week off, those CPO’s should be providing the same level of service consistently, regardless of who is on task that week.
To achieve this, after an intensive selection process, we train. Together. Pre-deployment training, continuous professional development training, scenario based, drills drills drills. We’re not trying to rewrite the textbooks, rather we are ensuring anyone KSS deploys is not only confident in their own ability, but also confident that the men and women in their team are all operating in the same way, to the same high standard.
The all too common scenario of pulling together teams of freelance operators, all from different backgrounds, trained by different providers, and then expecting them to perform seamlessly as a team to the required standard on day one of a project, without build up training, is unrealistic and potentially dangerous not only to the client but reputationally for the company.
Our operators understand the motivation behind our approach, and appreciate not only the opportunity to refresh some skills, but to train closely with their new team mates before hitting the ground.
It requires time, effort, resources, expertise and budget to achieve this, which is why it is so often overlooked or dismissed as unnecessary. KSS prefer to view it as an investment. Operatives with access to standardised, quality pre-deployment training are more effective, more cohesive, feel more supported, and are more confident. This leads to happier clients, which leads to more business.
That's a worthwhile outcome, in anyones book.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information on any of KSS's services.