Winning the Super Bowl in 10 Minutes: Protective Services in the United States


Diego Andreu
Diego Andreu


Winning the Super Bowl in 10 Minutes: Protective Services in the United States

Anyone who conducts protective security for a living understands the difference between the daily, typical protection tasks and the truly colossal tasks that require an enormous amount of planning and coordination. It’s like comparing a regular season football game to the Super Bowl; it’s the same game and both are important, but the amount of preparation and anticipation is quite different. A few years ago, a client contacted Control Risks asking us to assist with one of these “Super Bowl” projects in the United States. 

Our task was, in theory, simple: we were hired by a multinational manufacturing company to lead on security for a foreign dignitary’s diplomatic visit to one of their corporate sites. This involved drafting an event security plan in conjunction with government and private stakeholders; we were also tasked with staffing all access control points and providing ancillary executive protection for company VIPs. The visiting foreign dignitary would be protected by the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). 

We immediately began work on our plan and spent at least five or six months preparing it. We conducted multiple advances and held numerous meetings with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and private participants. We also coordinated with other protective details for governors, mayors and other government officials who would be in attendance. 

The event, officially labeled a diplomatic visit, was clearly meant to feature all the bells and whistles that a head of state typically receives: SWAT teams, canine teams, officers on four wheelers doing perimeter security…we had it all!  Our client also spent a small fortune in venue arrangements, ensuring that everything was perfect; no detail was too overlooked, no matter how small. I later overheard the Special Agent in charge of this protective detail say, “We don’t want this person getting hurt on US soil.” Noted, I thought; I felt the exact same way. 

After months and months of preparation, the day was finally here. The visit was supposed to last at least a few hours and we had rehearsed every single minute. I was on-site early and conducted a briefing with the entire security team. In my mind, I kept double- and even triple-checking everything I had done. Did I have the right amount of staff? Did they understand their roles and responsibilities? Was our plan appropriate? What if we missed something? “Not likely,” I thought, “Right?” 

By then the DSS advance team was on-site. I went to speak to them and everything was in order. “Perfect,” I thought, “Now we just need to execute.” About an hour later the dignitary’s motorcade was five minutes out. Everyone was in position; I was by the main door with the DSS advance agent and some Control Risks personnel. The motorcade arrived and the visit began, while I hung back, ensuring that the plan came together. 

Suddenly, I realized that the visit was being rushed. The diplomat was practically flying through the exhibitions, clearly trying to complete the visit as quickly as possible. Then, suddenly, he was making a beeline for the exit. His exit was so abrupt that the local police department escort officers had to literally run back to their motorcycles. And just like that he was gone, after less than ten minutes in the building.

I was in shock; everyone was in shock. The visit was supposed to last several hours, and we had prepared all kinds of choregraphed security movements. We had spent months getting prepared and it felt like we hadn’t been given the opportunity to properly execute the plan. My plan! It felt like we had just been robbed of the opportunity to showcase how well we had prepared for our Super Bowl!

After our final debrief, the client came over and congratulated everyone on a successful mission. I made a comment about how the task felt incomplete and he said, “Our mission was to make sure he was safe in this building. We accomplished it.” 

One the way home I keep thinking about what had just happened. All of that planning for less than ten minutes of work!? But the words that our client had said to me had made an impact; the task was a complete success! I thoroughly enjoyed the work and our client was extremely satisfied with the service we provided. 

Truthfully, this project was exactly how security should be approached. Most of our time should be spent preparing for projects and ensuring that we have plan that can be correctly executed. When you’re properly prepared, the actual execution of a project should be seamless or even underwhelming.  And if the person you’re protecting leaves early (extremely early!) or even changes everything at the last minute, it won’t be a problem because we’ll be ready for it.  


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