Do you know your roads?
Contributed by Basilio ‘Bob’ Reyes Jr., Executive Protection Officer, ConocoPhillips, Inc. ([email protected]). Contributed articles do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of ÆGIS.
As a Personal Protection Officer for my employer, the primary responsibility for my office is the daily safe and expedient transportation of our principal. While driving in and around this busy city where I live, work, and play, the question that comes to my mind on a constant basis is “WHAT/WHEN?”
As professionals, we have been trained by EP driving instructors that an attack on our principal is most likely to happen while the principal is being transported. Our vehicle, be it a sedan or SUV, armored or unarmored, is an office on wheels, and this is where the bad guys will try to snatch, harass, or kill our principal. We as professionals are already aware of this fact….I now ask you this: “Do You Know Your Roads?”
You may ask yourself, “what does he mean by “Do I know my roads?” I drive these same roads everyday. I know the exact number of miles from my principal’s residence to the office and back again. I could drive my primary route with my eyes closed, and my second and third routes with no problem. I can tell you where all the safe havens and choke points are. I’m on top of things. I arrive at the principal’s residence 15 minutes prior to pick-up and park down the street and watch for any unusual activity in the area. I’m on top of it. I’ve got it covered.”
No doubt you do because you take your job seriously and you want to continue to work in an industry that pays well and has outstanding benefits. Well then…what is this officer talking about when he asks “Do You Know Your Roads?”
As a professional, what do you do when you are confronted with a situation – carjacking, attempted kidnapping – while in your vehicle with your principal, your family, or even while you are alone? We all know that to hesitate or to do nothing will probably mean the bad guys will accomplish their mission. We are trained that we must keep the car moving. We may have to bang-up the vehicle some, or, worse, get shot at, but the most important thing to do as a driver is to MOVE! MOVE! MOVE! Get your principal out of the kill zone as quickly as possible.
As professionals we must conduct advances of not only the destinations where our principal will be in the future, but also of the various roads along the route(s) we take to these destinations. We must ask ourselves the WHAT/WHEN question continuously. It may not seem important to investigate possible surface contacts along your route but keep in mind the vehicle is heavy, and you may have 3 or 4 passengers in the car, plus luggage. It may have rained that night or earlier in the day. The ground that was hard is now soft. Weather conditions definitely come into play….rain, drought, spills, construction, missing manhole covers, or accidents can change an area quickly.
This means that you must get out of the vehicle to look, feel, and investigate areas where you may have to drive one day: grassy areas, medians, hilly areas, construction areas, and ditches. Yes, it may mean breaking a sweat or getting those nice shoes a little dirty, but it is necessary, because the bad guys are looking at these areas in order to better trap you.
This is where KNOWING YOUR ROADS comes into play. When this EP professional is driving along the route, be it the primary or secondary or tertiary route, I drive past grassy areas, construction areas, ditches, hills, mountain ranges, deserts, and I am always asking what will I do when…
Let’s say that out of the corner of your eye you see the bad guys coming, or maybe your principal or spouse or kid alerts you that trouble is brewing. You advise them to “GET DOWN” while at the same time you execute your move to get them out of the kill zone. You drive on, or drive through, or drive over whatever may be in your way. Let’s say you’re successful, but end up in the grassy area between the express way and feeder road, and your vehicle gets bogged down. Guess what? That’s right, chances are that the bad guys may be able to recover and come after you. Chances are that your goose, or that of your principal or your family, will soon be cooked.
What happens when you get chased by the bad guys, or an accident in front of you develops and all you have time to do is swerve left or right to avoid an accident of your own? What do you now do? You deal with it as best you can, and do what is necessary to keep your principal safe while escaping and making your way to your nearest safe haven. We are trained to look where we want the vehicle to go, and know that eventually the car will respond. Now you find yourself headed straight toward the rather large grassy hill bordered by a small ditch with overgrown grass or weeds….
An executive protection advance of a location or building is very important; and not doing a proper advance can make or break an EP mission. But a well done advance of the destination doesn’t matter when you’re bogged down in a grassy area trying to escape the bad guys.
If we continue to do the best job possible there is no doubt but that we will be ready for the roads ahead.