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Duct Tape's Journal
Posted by Duct Tape in General Discussion
Wed Aug 10th 2011, 05:39 AM
Inside the growing business of protecting the superrich from the pitchforks and torches.

óBy Josh Harkinson


<snip>

The men form a barrier around their client as he stops to watch a street-magic act, browses racks at Armani Exchange, wanders in and out of a Hooters and past a Gap. And that's when everything goes haywire. The stalker sprints around a corner, trailed by one of the countersurveillance guys. He lunges at the entourage. Gomez wraps the Primary in his beefy arms and yanks him away. The other agent intercepts the assailant mid-lunge and pins him against the wall with his elbows. "He's out of play," says the Primary. The agent and the stalker untangle their arms and laugh.

The entire scenario was a training drill staged by the World Protection Group Inc., an executive protection company with offices in Beverly Hills, New York, and Mexico City. The man playing the Primary, not a real CEO but a former Secret Service agent and narc, asked that I not use his name because, he says, he often works undercover in Mexico. Earlier that morning, he had lectured a group of traineesóWPG employees and freelancers shelling out $575 for the sessionóabout the wide, wide world of corporate security: "You are going to find yourself in places six months or a year from now that you never thought you would get to," he said. On a screen behind him, a well-dressed couple strolled from a Learjet to a Jaguar, framed by a neon sunset.

There are no reliable numbers on the growth of executive protection (EP), but the experts I spoke with say it has expanded at a rapid clip since the 1980s, with dozens of new players breaking into the game. That happens to be the same period during which the top 1 percent of US earners nearly tripled their annual income (PDF). More than a few of them, it seems, have felt compelled to hire men with guns.

<snip>

In 2009, EP firms discovered a powerful marketing tool in the outrage over bank bailouts. "There has never been this kind of populist anger before," Eden Mendel, director of security consulting at Kroll, a risk advisory firm, told the Financial Times. "When executives are revealed on television with bonuses they become a target." Nearly 80 percent of executives polled by the American Society for Industrial Security agreed that "the need for security has increased in the current economic climate," with "general increases in crime" and "employee layoffs" cited as the biggest threats. Executive protection firms like WPG, 360 Group International Inc., and the Steele Foundation reported revenue spikes of 30 to 50 percent in 2009, despite the recession. "Our business gets better as the economy gets worse," Moyer told me.

http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/07/ce...



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