In the previous instalments of this ongoing series, we discussed the challenges faced by Protectors who work with entertainers that spend at least some portions of their career involved in stage performances.
We also talked about some of the missteps Protectors have made when trying to respond to stage crashers, the more extreme of which have landed their client in the headlines for reasons they didn’t want, and the agent on the unemployment line.
Touring places the Protective Agent in a difficult position, both literally and physically. Depending on the nature of the tour and the configuration of the stage, it could be essentially you vs. thousands. I say that because the seasoned agent will want to get into the mind state where he views everyone as a potential threat, with the likelihood of that potential turning into actual the closer proximity they are to the stage and therefore the Protectee.
A good visual reference would be to think of yourself as King Leonidas with any additional members of your detail as well as the house security assigned to the stage, as your band of 300 Sparta warriors. 300 vs. thousands defending the pass, and it’s your preplanning, real-time observations, and rapid responses, that could spell the difference between victory and defeat.
As mentioned previously, the name of the game is prevention. If you can harden the target with layer upon layer of security measures, all acting in support of the mission (concentric rings) then the odds of a smooth show are much more likely. Alternatively, if there is a breakdown or weak spot at any portion of any layer, Murphy’s Law can almost guarantee that it will be exploited. In the event that the breech does occur, how we respond to it must then be the only concern. We can’t waste precious time wondering what went wrong and who is to blame, instead we must RE-act which is painfully slower as we have lost the initiative. In short the adversary has gotten to make the first move which automatically puts us on defense.
Backing up a step, we should discuss positioning he Bodyman assigned to the entertainer on stage. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s imagine that it is us as the Solo Protector supported by the house event staff. With the Performer on an elevated stage, the decision will need to be made to secure a position in the pit, effectively placing yourself closer to the audience than the audience is to the entertainer. Alternatively, and in my opinion the more advantageous option 90% of the time, is to take a position in the wings of the stage, either stage left (SL) or stage right (SR).
If someone makes it onto the stage it is then your responsibility to intercept before then can reach your client. However, once you make contact with the individual what you do next may have major implications. Yes adrenaline is pumping, yes you might still not have a clear idea of the crashers intentions, and yes, you need to assume the worst. However, with that said, if you get too aggressive in the manner of your response you had better believe that all of the cameras and smartphones that prior to were capturing the show, will now be focused on you. There has been a multitude of cases where the stage crasher has been for all intents and purposes assaulted on stage by the security staff, before being escorted out. Their injuries, combined with the footage that has now been uploaded to social media sites and spreading viraly, gives them the opportunity to press for criminal and/or civil damages. Don’t believe the saying all publicity is good publicity when it comes to entertainers. If you are responsible for damaging the brand, when the show ends that night it might also be curtains for you.
Keeping Your Edge – Measured Responses in Tour Security – Part 3
By: Elijah Shaw
Elijah Shaw is the National Director of the North American Bodyguard Association and the CEO of ICON Global, and International Executive Protection Consulting Firm. Elijah, who has been featured in Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur, and Portfolio, runs the ICON Academy, an EP Training Program specializing in Celebrity & VIP Protection. He also currently sits on the Board of Directors of Executive Security International (ESI), the United States oldest Executive Protection Training School.