There are few professions that create as much intrigue as that of a bodyguard. Hired by celebrities, billionaires and royalty, the modern Bodyguard, Close, Personal or Executive Protection Officer is in increasing demand. Global insecurity, a sharp upsurge in violent crime and a reduction in police manpower has resulted in more corporate executives and private individuals turning to the private security sector for personal protection.
However, thanks to a few far-fetched and unrealistic Hollywood movies, the bodyguard profession has been given a somewhat fantasised portrayal. Action and drama obviously sells movies but this false representation also creates an unjustified stereotype of a serious, diligent and very skilled profession. Listed are some of the five most common myths surrounding the bodyguard industry.
1. Size Matters
Probably the first thing that people think of is that a bodyguard has to be an intimidating seven feet tall, musclebound monster where the bigger the frame, the more protective he’ll be. Nonsense! While some clients prefer to hire a personal protection officer that is over six feet tall, size is certainly no guarantee of professional ability. Ideally, the close protection officer should be the ‘grey man’ operating discreetly whilst blending into the crowd. Agility and the ability to think on your feet are just some of the required competencies.
2. Bodyguards are Men
Female close protection officers are becoming increasingly popular, particularly with female clients. They may lack the physicality of their male counterparts however they certainly make up for it in other areas. For example, a female client may feel more comfortable with allowing a female into her personal space and others may prefer a female bodyguard to look after their children. When dressed conservatively, a female bodyguard is far less likely to attract the same attention as her male colleagues.
3. Only Celebrities Hire Bodyguards
Again, this statement is totally incorrect. While most celebrities do hire bodyguards, a large number of ordinary, everyday people also require some form of personal protection. These may range from a business executive travelling overseas to an unfamiliar location to someone feeling threatened by the likes of stalkers, the paparazzi and former partners. In addition, an increasing number of clients feel the need to hire personal protection to safeguard their children.
4. A Bodyguard Becomes Close Friends with their Principle
This is another Hollywood inspired misconception. A trusted relationship with the principle is certainly paramount however there are very strict professional boundaries that should always be upheld. A close protection officer is no different from a chauffeur, nanny or chef and over familiarity is strongly discouraged. A proficient close protection officer knows that their relationship with the principle is a professional one and they’re primarily being hired to do a job.
5. Being a Bodyguard is Glamorous
Definitely not true! Yes there are occasions where a close protection officer visits top restaurants, stays in luxury hotels and spends time on board a magnificent superyacht. Nevertheless, the Hollywood movies rarely depict the long hours and painstaking work that goes on behind the scenes such as planning routes and writing reports. More often than not, the role of a personal protection officer is a thankless one where the lifestyle of the principle must always come first. Flexibility is key and sometimes with little notice, one day could be spent in London and the following day in Dubai.
There’s no denying that the bodyguard profession is shrouded in mystery and thus creates an element of curiosity. The film industry has helped to create a somewhat false image of this highly skilled yet often misunderstood profession where brains are certainly more important than brawn.