At the Frontline: Executive protection expert W. Dennis Maez

Former Secret Service agent discusses protecting corporate executives and their families

Travel is kind of a double-edged sword. We have a lot of executives that travel to Latin America and fly on private aircraft. They do it because it is convenient to them. Their time is money and it is beneficial to them to be able to conduct meetings on their aircraft and not be dependent upon commercial airline schedules. But, flying into certain countries around the world in a shiny G4 attracts a lot of attention. That, in and of itself, can raise the security posture of the individual because of kidnapping issues.

In Mexico a few years back, at a general aviation airport that handled private jets, there was a group of individuals that were targeting people coming off of these jets. When they would leave the airport, (the group) would call some of their co-conspirators, give them descriptions of vehicles, how many people were in them and who the soft targets were so they could setup a roadblock and try to kidnap them or even just rob them. One of the issues that I've found is that certain companies will fly their executives around the world, spending thousands of dollars an hour to operate these private aircraft and don't take into consideration what their posture and their profile is going to be once they are on the ground and skimp on security at that point.

How has executive security changed over the years?

Security in general is a non-revenue generating part of any organization. It is a money spender, not a money maker. I think companies are now starting to see and have for probably the last 18 months, that even though security in a non-revenue generating part of any organization, it is a very important part and they are starting to realize that expenditures for security are not a luxury, they are a necessity. What a lot of organizations have come to realize is... if something happens to their senior management, it can affect the bottom line of their company. It can affect their stock value and it can affect the confidence that investors have in their company. The great of majority of companies that I've dealt with have really stepped up to the plate in terms of being very concerned about their employees and senior management's safety. Executive protection is not just about executives either. Executive protection could be protecting technicians of a company. Companies are now starting to realize they have to look out for the environment around these individuals as well.