Self Reflection and Evaluation of the ISA Executive Protection Training Program.

Looking Back on 2019 Through the Eyes of the June 2019 article “What Training Programs Should I Attend”?
by Tony Scotti

The ISA Response by Matthew Parker, CEO, ISA

 Within the executive protection industry, there is an entire sub-category of those offering EP training, some are considered better than others and if you pay much attention to their social media posts often pumped out by the dozens a day you have some training providers that really hold themselves above the others. But if you’re just entering the industry and looking to attend training how do you know who is the real thing and who isn’t?

Well, Tony Scotti addressed this dilemma in his June 2019 article and by doing so provided both the students and the training providers with a template to evaluate our programs.  ISA took that template as part of our end of year review to see where we stood and this is what we found.    

Questions to ask the training providers

  • What is the standard that I will be trained?
  • How will I be measured to that standard?
  • Where is the standard documented? 

A question not asked: What will I learn and is it applicable to my career goals?

Great questions and thankfully the answers came easily.

Training Standards

In the absence of a national regulatory or quantifiable standard for the training of state and local law enforcement in close protection, or an industry standard for civilian executive protection agents, the ISA course managers conducted a costly and manpower intensive full year-long assessment of law enforcement and civilian EP training as well as operations in the field known as the Instructional Systems Design (ISD) process and identified the core critical skills required to conduct protective service operations for any level of threat and for most types of clients.

Solutions to the Need for a National Standard

The ISA EP training programs are primarily governed by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice regulation related to Private Security Services Training Schools 6VAC20-173, but as a result of the findings of the EP training assessment, the ISA training team selected the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers 11-day Protective Service Operations Training Program as our model. By doing so we also accepted the quantifiable standards of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) for the training of a protective service agent as our own. And by modeling our training program on the federal standards we also exceeded the state requirements of the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice 32E Personel Protection Specialist program. 

    ISA has also based some of our training programs on the requirements of the US Army Advanced Law Enforcement Training Division Protective Services Training Course 7H-F18/ASID7/830-F13,  and although not legally required, ISA also voluntarily adheres to the applicable sections of the Department of Defense Manual 3115.11, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management Training Evaluation Field Guide and to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Accreditation Agencies (FLETA) Accreditation Board Procedures and Standards Manual 2021.

 By adhering to and following the guidelines and requirements in these manuals and regulations we ensure the student will receive standardized training on the skills and procedures needed to conduct or support Protective Service Operations as a single officer/agent or as part of a larger protective detail for protectee’s who are or may become potential targets of terrorism and/or criminal acts.

And these quantitative standards ensure the performance of everything the students are required to accomplish or complete from a tabletop exercise to a written exam or how they are evaluated during a live exercise can be measured and validated. These standards also apply to our instructors, the lesson plans, and how we conduct training. 

Who is training me, and what are their credentials?

ISA instructors are all certified by federal, US military, state regulatory agencies, and law enforcement to conduct training. Each has primary and secondary subject matter expertise and years of direct experience. Each instructor’s credentials are available on request and on file with state agencies. Guest speakers, subject matter experts, and assistant instructors must all be approved by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice PPS program and the Maryland Police Training Commission after being vetted. 

How many instructors are there, and are they there every day of the program?

Every ISA course is staffed with one master instructor and several subject matter experts, guest speakers, and at least one assistant instructor. As class sizes increase the number of instructors increases to maintain a 1:12 instructor to student ratio.

Mr. Tony Scotti – Executive Vice President and Principal Management Consultant for VDI, Guest Speaker, Boston Mass
Joe Autera – the President and CEO of VDI, Guest speaker and subject matter expert, PG County Police Academy, and via VTC
Surveillance detection, counter-surveillance, and terrorism expert Rik Kirchner, Guest speaker and SME, PG county and Univ of Maryland Police Academy
TSCM, Secure communications, TSCM detection SMEs, PG County Police Academy
K-9 Explosive detection SME’s, PG County and Univ of Maryland Police Academy
SME’s, Use of Drones, Charlotte Police Academy and George Mason Univ Police Training Program










Matthew Parker, Master Instructor
Carl Persons, Ret USSS, VP Red Five, Adjunct Instructor
Raffaele M. Di Giorgio, RRDD, special adviser to the EP medical training program for ISA and a master medical instructor.











How many of the alumni are gainfully employed and employed at doing what?

ISA primarily trains law enforcement and private corporate EP teams so our students are normally gainfully employed prior to attending. But for our civilian students, we have seen great success in their careers after graduation. And we are proud our networking efforts have been successful in introducing graduates to hiring managers and corporate recruiters.

Social Media presence of the training providers

  • Does the training provider’s website have a blog or article section devoted to sharing knowledge? Yes, we do.
  • Is their Social Media content knowledge-based? Yes, it is, but ISA also shares articles from across the industry as various topics of interest to our alumni.
  • Does the provider share their knowledge BEFORE you pay for their services? Yes, ISA takes part in free mentoring sessions year-round, and payment for formal training is not due until day three allowing the instructors and students to determine if the course is a fit for the student.

Final thoughts & Disclosures

 In March 2011 while preparing to retire from military service I had the opportunity to attend training with the Vehicle Dynamics Institute, where I graduated from the three-day driver’s course and the VDI instructor’s course. Within the first 30 minutes of being in the class, I discovered this training course was unlike others I had attended in that Joe Autera – the President and CEO of VDI in his welcome to the students said: “This training was built around science, math, and quantifiable standards”. We the students would need to master the operation of a vehicle to 80% of the car’s capabilities to graduate.  

These two training programs had a standard of performance based on quantifiable science designed to meet or exceed the regulatory requirements of federal agencies including the military. But they also incorporated into their curriculum training that addressed the daily role and responsibilities of private-sector security drivers. Until that moment I had yet to attend training in the civilian market that had any type of real standards or were built around anything that could even remotely be described a quantifiable.

And as successful as VDI was, they were fully prepared to embrace change and evolve with the times and new automotive technology. This evolution meant new cars, new training methods, and exercises or scenarios and continuous evaluation and recertification of their training standards.

I was really taken aback by this because they were the exception and not the rule among the civilian training providers I had dealt with previously. These certificate factories didn’t care about quantifiable standards nor did they build their courses and curriculums using the Instructional Systems Design (ISD) process. No, they just read the comment cards of their “graduates” and if they were good then the program was good.

It was during this training I had the honor to meet and speak with Tony Scotti who became a friend and mentor to me as I started ISA and its training division. It was during those early days in 2011 Tony reintroduced me to Dr. Richard W. Kobetz the Founder of the Executive Protection Institute who I had years before had the privilege of learning from in Chicago.

“Doc” as he was known also became a friend and mentor, and it was during our numerous phone calls and e-mails Tony, Doc and Joe helped guide me as we developed our training programs around quantifiable standards and using the Instructional Systems Design (ISD) process.

Since 2011 we have been accredited or approved by state regulatory agencies, law enforcement and received educational recognition by institutions of higher learning. It is a time consuming and expensive process, but thanks to our mentor’s advice and support we never wavered in our commitment to only offer and conduct the best training under the most rigorous standards available.

Then I read an article in Security Driver Magazine entitled What Training Programs Should I Attend? And I was once again taken back to 2011 and those early conversations. The article caused us to stop and reevaluate our own training programs.

  • Ques; had we strayed from our commitments?
  • Ques; had we become what we despised in those other training providers?
  • Ques; were we an easy A, were we just printing certificates?

So we took the list of questions that a prospective student should/could ask us from the article to see just where we stood.. After using Tony Scottie’s list of questions as a self-evaluation tool we feel comfortable we have kept the faith with Doc Kobetz, Tony and Joe’s advice over the years. But we are also discouraged some training providers have ignored the call for standardized training and training standards as they continue to offer programs with no accreditation or are designed around “war stories” instead of the ISD process.

ISA pledges we will never forget that our students count on our programs to prepare them to work in the industry, and we will ensure every course we offer is fully vetted, receives approval or accreditation and our instructors have the experience, training, and credentials needed to provide world-class training.

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