On July 13th, 2020 eighteen individual students came together at the MGM National Harbor training center in Maryland to attend the Independent Security Advisors accredited Dignitary and Executive Protection Specialist Course.
Hosted by Mr. Joe Doa the Vice President of Security – Regional Operations at MGM Resorts International, endorsed and in keeping with the high standards of training of the International Foundation for Protection Officers and sponsored by Mr. Brandon Shafikhani and Samaritan Protective Services of Virginia, this program was conducted under strict COVID 19 protocols.
After seven days and 80 hours of training a team of 18 agents graduated from the course, and this was after extensive hands-on training in 102-degree weather and late nights. One of only three courses without a test failure or negative peer report in the last two years, this group faced mandatory temperature checks, twice a day disinfectant and cleaning requirements, social distancing, mask use, and used a gallon of hand sanitizer.
Four class leaders came and went, multiple team leaders and we had four guest instructors, two assistant instructors, two role players, and a hostile surveillance specialist watching the students. Not to mention the CPR instructor and various guests who just dropped in to say hello and watch training. Oh, did we mention being hosted by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 89 for a discussion on the Use of Private Security vs. Law Enforcement for the protection of elected officials.
But training actually started the 6th of July with pre attendance homework, and this coupled with stress enhancements designed to introduce the students to real-world scenarios and situations enabled the students to learn, adapt and successfully conduct EP operations in the field.
Besides the challenges of COVID restrictions, stress enhancements, long hours, and hot weather, this group also had to conduct student-led training, work in teams of four, six, nine and combine as a full detail of eighteen in the field. All this while teams were split up and team members reassigned to a new team based on the threat assessments of their given principles.
“Chaos theory at its finest” this class also set new standards as student leaders conducted team training until they “got it right” and then during pre-testing further refined their procedures, methods, and SOPs, often leaving late in the evening exhausted physically and mentally.
The instructors and course management team will take the lessons learned from this class and use them to improve and refine future classes, the next being August 17-23, 2020 in North Carolina. So thank you students of class 7-19 and we look forward to working with you in the future as agents on assignment.
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