On-the-job experiences can complement structured outside training and education for security executives, supervisors and officers. Photo courtesy of The Conley Group

Many security staff members lose valuable, realistic, training time.

These opportunities arise every day, opportunities which allow them to evaluate threat potentials and determine what they would do in the event of a high risk situation.

We’re not talking about daydreaming. In this particular instance, your classroom is your everyday location, and goes beyond the normal activities of awareness, observing and evaluating suspicious personnel or situations. It is in this classroom that you become more prepared for an actual incident, and less likely to be surprised when the unexpected does happen. Let’s get rid of the “it won’t happen to me” mentality, but approach this with a realistic evaluation.

Mental evaluation takes into account any experiences you have had, anything that has happened to other security executives or operatives you know, and a summary of known incidents in your area and around the country. The next step is to evaluate all the things that could likely happen, and begin to mentally and physically rehearse them to the outcome of all realistic possibilities. This is the preparation phase.

Site surveys are where you learn the physical characteristics of likely threat areas - and includes the following:






Shrubbery or vegetation

Hiding spots for suspects

Entry points, and method of gaining access after business hours

Approach routes

Escape routes

Motor and pedestrian traffic during business hours


Containment requirements

Evacuation of structure and surrounding area

Vantage points for observation or sniper support (other buildings, etc.)

Management and maintenance phone numbers


Floor plans

Main threat areas (vault, tellers, cash registers etc.)



Blind spots

Primary and alternate approach routes to likely threat areas.

Access to offices or other areas during non-business hours

Any key data, such as areas with one-way glass, audible alarms, etc.

Any volatile chemicals or flammable materials

These are only a few examples of the things you want to look for and evaluate. Again, begin with areas most likely to be hit, and work your way down your list in priority order for training purposes.

Next, determine the type of threat you could conceivably encounter. (Gangs, drug dealers and activities, domestic terrorists, and cults are a few things to look for. You need to know their capabilities, training and armament, as well as their normal method of operation. You are not going to learn this kind of information by sitting at the feet of naysayers or the naive, so get yourself involved with good intelligence information.)

Scenario planning

Once you have all the necessary information and intelligence, it’s time to begin your “What If?” planning. Imagine a variety of the most realistic possibilities, up to and including worst-case scenarios. Based on your tactical knowledge, begin assessing options and think about what you would do in each particular situation. Also envision situations that may fall outside normal department policy where you must make an immediate call.

Assess the many potential scenarios you can come up with while your staff member is walking a post, escorting an executive protection principal from the restaurant to the car and finding yourself in the middle of “next door” bank robbery getaway, handling a “routine” traffic stop, finding yourself in the middle of an armed robbery at the mall, being confronted by thugs while vacationing with your family, finding yourself in the middle of a shootout while walking out of the local theater with your wife and kids, moving from pushing a cart down the aisle behind your wife at the supermarket into an in-store hostage situation.

Once you have identified areas you need to learn or improve upon, then begin the process of training staff to become more proficient.

About the IFPO

The International Foundation for Protection Officers (IFPO) is a non-profit organization for the purpose of facilitating the training and certification needs of protection officers and security supervisors from both the commercial and proprietary sectors. IFPO publishes the Protection Officer News. More information atwww.ifpo.org.