Vacation and seasonal homes
Contributed by Lorraine Clohan, Commercial Reports, Inc. ([email protected]). Contributed articles do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the ÆGIS e-journal.
The vacation season has arrived! Many CEOs and executives are looking forward to spending time with loved ones away from their stressful daily routines, often at personally owned or company-owned seasonal vacation homes. Many executive protection programs do not provide staffed security coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for key executive staff members while they are on vacation. Most executives do not like to consider the possibility that the privacy and peace enjoyed at vacation homes can be intruded upon. This article explores some ideas for security at executive seasonal vacation homes where security and protection are minimal and no personal staff security coverage is provided for the executive.
High-profile executives enjoy their privacy, and generally are protective of the privacy of their loved ones, particularly children. The executive, family members, loved ones, and sometimes the executive’s close personal friends are vulnerable to privacy breaches by the press. Beyond the desire for privacy are issues of potential danger and threats that executives may ignore thanks to the “it can’t happen to me” syndrome. Worse, the executive may not yet have had any experience with corporate security, particularly in fast- growing Fortune 500 companies. Executives may not want to consider that their special getaways — their second or additional seasonal homes — can be breached. Security professionals know that breaches can and do occur by a variety of intruders.
Some potential intruders may be individuals bent on retaliation against the executive, such as disgruntled employees or shareholders. There may be those seeking monetary gain through robbery or ransom demands after kidnapping the executive or one of the executive’s loved ones. Are your executives made aware of their security vulnerabilities in a professional manner? Is the personal security information presented as factual information rather than as sounding an alarm?
Security professionals have an obligation to provide their executives and the executives’ immediate loved ones with detailed personal protection security briefings, particularly before their departure for seasonal homes. Prior to those briefings, the security professional has many things to consider, some of which will depend on information supplied by the executive or designee. Some of those considerations are:
Physical Setting of Seasonal Homes:
How many additional homes are there?
A. What is the environment?
4. Political (outside the U.S.)
B. What is the perimeter control of the property?
3. Natural barrier
C. Alarm system
1. Home only?
2. Exterior buildings (e.g., boathouse, snowmobile storage house, guesthouse)?
3. Outer perimeter?
D. Is the residence adequately insured?.
1. Replacement value?
2. Security coordination with the insurance company?
3. Are the buildings built to code?
This is an initial list of possibilities to consider. There are more factors, many of which are specific to your executive and the executive’s key intimate friends and family, and to their lifestyles.
A security plan for the executive’s seasonal residence(s) should include a review of architectural plans, when possible. Always allow for plenty of exterior lighting around buildings and on some property perimeters. Motion- detector lights are excellent and serve well in most environments. Work with a reputable alarm company and consider the installation of the following, as a minimum, to a central station:
• Alarm contacts on all doors and windows
• Panic alarms throughout the buildings
• Remote alarms, such as pendant alarms for use on the grounds (Radio Frequency devices)
• Environmental detectors (e.g., smoke detectors, fire alarms, and temperature sensors for water, heat, utilities, etc.)
No one likes to be inconvenienced in any way or feel confined in their own residence. Try to put yourself in the place of the executive for whom you are establishing security. Maximize security and minimize the inconvenience in planning and applications. Some additional security measures that will make security easier and more convenient are:
• Detectors woven in screens (allowing windows to be left open)
• Detectors on access points of remote buildings
• Wireless transmitters such as pendant alarms for use during nearby outdoor activities
• Cellular telephone backup units • Satellite telephones for use in remote areas (expensive, but cheap insurance)
• Secure units that will send an alarm to the monitoring agency if the telephone wires supporting the alarm system are cut or tampered with
• Secure GPS systems in vehicles such as boats, snowmobiles, and other recreational vehicles
Any of the suggested alarm systems can be directed to separate zones in a panel, can be customized to your needs, and are highly adaptable to multiple environments. Never underestimate the use of durable, high-quality locks for doors and windows.
Establish a meeting time with the executive, and, when possible, the executive’s family and loved ones, prior to the trip. Advise those planning to travel of personal security measures that should be taken during the trip to the vacation home. If the trip is to be taken to another country, a briefing about the political and economic situation in that country is appropriate prior to travel.
The most vulnerable time of travel is in a motor vehicle. The security professional may want to provide advice regarding evasive driving measures, depending on the particular situation. In any event, the security professional should advise the executive group to consider:
• Alternative routes
• The mechanical condition of the vehicles
• Cellular telephones
• CB radios
During the briefing, address measures that have been taken to implement a home security checklist. The checklist can be completed by the corporate security professional, a designated security consultant in the geographic area where the vacation home is located, or, if appropriate, the alarm company representative. In some cases, the executive or someone from the executive’s traveling party may want to complete the checklist. This is ideal, as a group member is taking an active role in security, which leads to more familiarity with the vacation home’s location and security vulnerabilities.
The briefing should also cover the arrangements made for practicing use of the remote and permanent alarm systems at the vacation home. Ideally, the alarm company representative and the corporate security professional would provide the training.
The content of the briefing will depend upon the remoteness of the vacation home. For example, for more remote areas, the security professional may want to remind the travelers to bring along cell phones, prescription medications, and a basic first aid kit to include an EPI-PENTM (epinephrine injection to deal with severe allergic reactions). It would be ideal if one or more of the group members were trained in CPR and the Heimlich maneuver.
Many security professionals have not had appropriate access to their vulnerable executives to even establish a rudimentary executive protection program. Some ways to begin to build that bond of trust include knowing the personal interests of the executive and using that knowledge as a common ground of social conversation during corporate functions. Hopefully, the executive is at least familiar with the corporate security professional from security measures established for corporate shareholder meetings.
These initial contacts serve well to open the door to scheduling a short period of time on the executive’s calendar to discuss a home security survey at the primary residence. Often this will be worked out and conducted with a spouse or loved one within the primary household. A good door-opening selling point might be to determine ahead of time with the corporate insurance company what savings, if any, will be made in premiums if certain security measures are put in place. Do you know any executive who isn’t interested in saving corporate dollars? The same is true of the executive’s personal property and personal life insurance policies. When security professionals approach executives with solutions and the promise of potential savings (even small dollar amounts), the executive is more likely to listen and the door is more likely to open wider to security cooperation from executives.
This is not a comprehensive list, but rather a group of ideas from which the security professional can work and expand the corporate executive protection program to encompass vacation homes. The key to cooperative executive protection is to build trust with the executive, one step at a time, by presenting factual security statistics such as benchmark comparisons of security measures provided for executives of corporations of like size.
As the executive learns to trust the security professional, it will become easier to provide appropriate levels of protection at all locations, particularly vacation homes. In the end, the security professional may enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that all that was possible was done to ensure the protection of key executives and their loved ones.