Security Awareness for Household Personnel
How many times throughout history has an entire army successfully protected their ruler from repeated assassinations, attacks from foreign armies and attempted coups, only to allow their leader to be killed by a close and trusted aide?
When a decision is made to provide security for a principal, (regardless of who makes the decision), the process eventually involves a professional security “expert” providing an assessment of risk and liability exposure and offering some discussion using impressive terms and references to “concentric rings of security”, (Which by the way is not an effective way to separate risk exposures). After a couple of weeks of planning, interviews, route studies, communications enhancements and team coordination exercises, the new team is ready.
Every contingency in place and every family and household staff member investigated and interviewed, the Principal is safe… Except for the giant hole in the plan that didn’t address the maid’s addiction to gossip or the butler’s gambling habits or the House Manager’s jealousy of anyone who is closer to the Principal that he is. Additionally, the Principal’s wife was never been coached on carrying a smaller handbag, or dressing down when shopping or wearing shoes she could run in and the nanny didn’t have a clue about how to avoid exposure to risks in public or how to identify and use improvised weapons to defend her charge.
Nobody considered the more reasonable expectation of teaching the family and staff to read the environment, recognize potential risks to the Principal or household, avoid the risk and properly communicate the conditions to the security team. The Athena Academy created and hosts the NannyGuards program to address the training needs of the domestic staff. The program is so effective that even Principals and their spouses are attending the classes with members of their staffs.
Think this is too much? Try asking yourself if you are aware of how much of your principal’s information is available to family members, staff and friends, employees, clients, service people and social event attendees.
Valuable and sensitive information about the Principal’s personal life, movement, business related details, finances, health, and various other exposures are all at risk of disclosure by anyone who might benefit from doing so. Even the best security team can’t control all the exposures, but recognizing that a well-trained staff and supportive family can lessen the risk of exposure by recognizing the signs of someone with the means and willingness to take advantage of their knowledge of the Principal.
Another important consideration is that in many cases, the protective team or individual Close Protection Operative is not part of the family and therefore required to live outside the Principal’s home resulting in not only being out of reach but out of earshot of domestic conversation.
Lastly, a maid, butler, cook, nanny, or driver can inadvertently sabotage an otherwise perfect security plan with the click of a mouse or the tap of a cellphone. Social media enables the most innocent or mundane photograph or statement to compromise the Principal’s safety or security.
Photographs can show not only addresses, clothing styles, identifying tattoos, license plates, and trends or habits but through analysis of the image, can identify geo-tag locations and times and dates of photographs. Proper vetting of the staff is only part of the security equation.
There must be training of the staff and even family members specific to risk exposure and risk mitigation. And when setting up your “concentric rings” of security, don’t forget to look in the center of the smallest ring for the first exposure; the Principals themselves.
Founder & CEO
John R. Lehman
Athena Worldwide LLC