Canadian Security Magazine

Executive protection, Olympic style

By Rosie Lombardi   

News Retail

Business is booming for private security firms offering executive protection (EP) services to corporate VIPs attending the Vancouver Olympics.

More than 5,000 private security guards affiliated with various
companies will be on-site, over and above the vast public security
resources provided by the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC), RCMP
and police, says Jim Kijewski, director of EP services at Toronto-based
Reilly Security.

Major corporate sponsors such as Royal Bank, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola
want private security for their key people during their stay at hotels
and when they’re out and about town at restaurants, bars and other
venues attending social and business events.

“With the size of the Olympics, many companies realize the police will
have difficulties dealing with day-to-day security issues, and are
taking it on themselves to ensure security for their own key staff and
events,” says Kijewski.

Many senior company officials are vulnerable to threats because of
their wealth, positions or the values their corporations represent,
says Scot Filer, managing partner at Vancouver-based Lions Gate
Investigations Group


“The risks they face depend on the type of EP client. It could be
eco-terrorists, unstable people lashing out, kidnappers who want
ransom, or pranksters throwing cream pies. When you’re involved in
providing EP services, your head is on a swivel,” says Filer.

Security at sports events in stadiums and arenas will be controlled by
the RCMP and the police, so EP providers will be providing discreet
bodyguard services for individuals and small groups attending games.

“Corporate executives want protection for themselves and their
families, but they don’t want the image they’re dragging around a big
strongman who’ll beat people up,” says Filer.

But EP providers have a much larger role at the private events that
many companies are organizing outside official sports events, as these
aren’t secured by authorities.

An EP assignment requires exhaustive planning and higher-order security
skills beyond simple bodyguard services, says Filer. “You have to get
the details of your client’s itinerary, examine the routes to get to a
venue and plan the most discreet but efficient one, go to the venue and
review its security, arrange for the most secure seating with its
managers, know all the ins and outs of where to park and where to drop
off your VIP.”

Some EP assignments at the Olympics are major, full-blown security
projects. Reilly Security, for example, is involved in taking over the
security for an entire hotel on behalf of a major communications firm
that’s a major partner for the Olympics.

“The company needed the space and bought out the hotel to accommodate
all its VIPs and guests, and is assuming all the security for it,” says
owner Nick Migliore.

Migliore’s team has been planning the Olympic hotel takeover for over a
year. Policies and procedures, perimeter security, access control to
screen out unauthorized people, networking with the Vancouver police:
all these aspects have been planned in detail well in advance.

“When we get there, we’ll have a complete command centre, with the
necessary staff, software and communications in place, so if there’s an
incident, we can react in consultation with police,” says Migliore.

One of the client’s key concerns is unauthorized people getting into
the hotel, so the Reilly team will be screening all comings and goings,
he says. “Everybody will have to have credentials and ID to enter the
hotel. We have a visitor and access management plan in place, and also
a vehicle protection plan for underground parking.”

Hotel employees are also being scrutinized. Cooks, concierge and other
staff will go about their normal business, but the team is conducting
background checks to ensure wrongdoers haven’t infiltrated their ranks.

Kijewski says a wide range of protest groups engaging in demonstrations are
expected: anti-poverty, anti-globalization, native resistance, and
other groups.  

“These will likely be causing disruptions at game sites or in the
streets of Vancouver. Many are engaging in new forms of direct action
by singling out specific corporations, and the B.C. government will
probably also be targeted. We’re relying on our police partners to let
us know about the more significant threats.”

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