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Covid19 and the EP Professional

As we all adapt to Covid19 and the new normal, I wanted to quickly highlight some of the positives of Covid19 for the EP professional. I am not an Epidemiologist, nor do I pretend to know everything about Covid19, I am an EP practitioner who mitigates risk for a living – period. Like many of ...

As we all adapt to Covid19 and the new normal, I wanted to quickly highlight some of the positives of Covid19 for the EP professional. I am not an Epidemiologist, nor do I pretend to know everything about Covid19, I am an EP practitioner who mitigates risk for a living – period.

Like many of you, I have carried Purell in my coat pocket for 20 years. Most Protectees appreciate this attention to detail and some probably think I am a bit neurotic. They will certainly mandate it now.

As America begins to return to some semblance of normal, and Protectees begin to leave their homes, I ask EP professionals to embrace the new normal of Covid19 protocols — as they actually can assist our important work. Besides hand-sanitizer, here are some things to consider:

  • Social Distancing helps establish White Space. If you have not read Just 2 Seconds, I highly encourage you to understand the importance of White Space as described in Chapter 4. After studying thousands of attacks, the author’s astutely surmised “For most types of attacks, 25 feet of space between an attacker and target just about assures the Protectee’s survival.” When you create White Space during an advance and during an operation, folks who usually would have protested before Covid19, will now understand it as Social Distancing and be more compliant than before.
  • Identifying PINs. PINs are pre-incident indicators to an attack or inappropriate encounter. With the new normal of social distancing and wearing of PPEs, the EP professional will benefit from using these non-verbal cues to accurately assess the Protectee’s environment. Before Covid19 a group of individuals standing in close proximity might not have earned a second look from an EP professional, now it would be a PIN and those folks will get increased scrutiny from the EP professional.
  • Avoiding High-Touch Surfaces. As was taught to me in the FBI, do not let someone you don’t know touch your Protectee’s door. All EP professionals understand this tenet — as it allows you to advance and control the Protectee’s movements through uncontrolled spaces. This is quite easy to do in a US Government Protective Detail as adequate staffing is not really an issue. In the private sector, staffing is much different and often complicates the adherence to this principle. EP professionals will benefit from requesting more Protectors for a public movement and using the need to sterilize the environment for a Protectee as the rationale. The Protectee might be more agreeable to the expense and this is a big win for the EP team.
  • Better Access Control. Many businesses are open and others are opening soon. Most are discussing protocols that would have been considered extreme or draconian prior to Covid19: thermal cameras at entrances, blood tests, temperature checks, mandated PPE, medical history/antibody declarations. How do these help the EP professional? They create safer environments for your Protectee. I encourage you to work with the various security departments your Protectee has exposure to and use this time to implement Access Control protocols you have been promoting for years.

This Covid19 pandemic is an immense challenge for all of us and really reminds me of a quote from Epictetus who once said: “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

I hope all EP professionals can embrace this challenging time.

James Hamilton is a member of the ASIS Executive Protection Community and Senior VP at Gavin de Becker and Associates

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