How was your transition as a Philadelphia police officer to the private sector?
My transition was a tricky one. Coming from a field where we are trained to address crime once it happens, mentally it leaves you in response mode. EP is very proactive, as such, we must anticipate what could happen and work to mitigate that. Also, as an Law Enforcement Officer, you have control over almost every situation that you’re in. The law gives you that authority and that luxury. In Executive Protection, not so much. So there’s another shift in mindset that one must have. As an EP professional you don’t have the same authority that LEO’s have, so you can’t bark out commands, stop traffic, block public access, etc., as such, the transition was tricky. The best way I can describe it is, not difficult but also, not “easy,” so to speak.
What are some traits and soft skills that you have acquired from working in inner city Philadelphia that has helped you In your line of work today?
I think the number one skill I’ve learned was the ability to talk to people to get the desired outcome. In the streets, you have to have the skillset to deescalate a deadly confrontation or you have to be able to get information from an individual who never intends to speak to you. That skill does not come overnight, and there’s a lot of trial and error, but the truth of the matter is, it’s all predicated on respect for the other individual. Also, being intentional and understanding what’s at stake are major factors for success.
How would you describe your day to day with your clients?
Difficult to answer for many reasons. For one, every client is different, so there’s that. Every client is human and has a life outside of the “celebrity” that the general public know them for. So on a Monday a client may be in great spirits, and then on Tuesday a kid was suspended or a friend died, or some other issue. The consistent thing is how I handle the days. From my perspective, no day is different from the other in my preparation or my diligence. Again, these are habits learned with time.
How do you balance life with a busy work schedule, given that this line of work requires a lot of commitment?
That’s going to be different for everyone. I have hobbies and things I like to do that distract me from the stress of a busy life. I don’t have small children which makes it 1000% easier for me as opposed to others in the industry. Having an outlet is the best balance for me. That and regular massages.
Do you find this role fulfilling to the life of a protector?
I’m a protector by nature and a second generation officer where all but one of my uncles were in some capacity of law enforcement. So the most satisfying aspect is that I get to continue that legacy and I allow people to live as normal a life as they can without the worry of their safety or the safety of their loved ones.
What do you find to be the most challenging yet satisfying aspect in this industry?
The challenge early on was finding my lane. I transitioned from LE to EP without training or the understanding that I couldn’t operate as a cop anymore. Today the challenge doesn’t come from the work per se but the finding of adequate agents to work with. I find myself sometimes working with the untrained guy who wants to impress me with what he thinks he knows and totally blows it. At times I find myself working with the guy who did a tour in the sandbox and wants to treat everything he encounters with this militarized machismo which is not right for the assignment.
Given your experience what are some “Textbook vs. Real world” examples you have encountered?
Textbook, always do an advance of the locations you’re going to and know the routes to and from. Real-world, “Kevin, we are going to go to location X, then make a stop at here and then here.” – All new plans made by them in the moment. So there’s no way to understand what you’re about to walk into. Another example is working with your client and they get an impromptu invite to a party that’s happening in a few hours. One minute you are driving to a known destination, the next you are directed to head to an FBO to take a flight to a city and a place you know nothing of. This is where your experience kicks in and you improvise. The client expects the same level of service no matter what environment you are in.
What are some difficulties that you come across when your client is known worldwide?
The difficulties are recognition and entitlement. A lot of fans have an entitled mindset as they may have supported the client throughout their careers and feel that they are owed an acknowledgment. It can get a bit difficult there but for the most part, it can make the job easier as most people and places will acquiesce because of the notoriety of the client.
What advice would you give to those that are trying to make a solid and steady income in Executive Protection?
My advice would be to have a clear understanding of what it is you want and ask yourself are you willing to sacrifice for it. No one has made it to the top fully intact. You will lose something along the way, just make sure it is not yourself.
Foot Steps Episode 1 Kevin Ghee
By: Jose Casillas
Jose Casillas is a Los Angeles based Excecutive Protection agent who specializes in red carpet events, movie premieres and estate security, he also teaches matrial arts and works as an EMT.