The initiative to finally devise a long sought credible certification in dignitary and executive protection has made significant progress in the past 18 months and appears to be on a path to success in the not too distant future.
The American Board for Certification in Dignitary and Executive Protection (ABCDEP), a subset of the American Board for Certification in Homeland Security (ABCHS) is currently conducting a survey among EP practitioners to determine the importance of various EP tasks. This survey is part of the process leading to the creation of the certification exam. In order to be certified, passing the exam will be a requirement.
BACKGROUND OF THE ABCDEP CERTIFICATION
From its inception in late 2010, the foundation principle of the initiative to establish an American certification standard in dignitary and executive protection was that it be credible. That meant it had to, 1) be based on a sound doctrine and essential elements of knowledge; 2) that certification candidates command that knowledge; 3) that candidates have experience and; 4) they can pass a rigorous examination sanctioned by an objective third-party entity. This was not to be a “pay to play” exercise.
The process began with engaging an organization that had a demonstrated ability to guide and facilitate the creation of a bona fide professional certification process and methodology. The organization selected to provide this function is the ABCHS. The ABCHS is a non-biased provider of professional certification that does not offer protection services or training.
The next step was to recruit a board of directors from across the spectrum of dignitary and executive protection with the relevant experience and skills that would assure a comprehensive view of the profession. The 15 members of the board – all volunteers who donate their time and serve at their own expense – are active practitioners in one way or another from the corporate, private, and government sectors. Together, the board has more than 325 years of experience in the profession. A list of board members is on the ABCDEP website.
The board’s task was to structure a process to achieve certification that would be recognized by peers and end-users as evidence of professional competency. That began with a comprehensive description of what the job of dignitary and executive protection actually entails. The product of that effort was the Job Task Analysis (JTA), a 150+ page document that details the essential elements of providing protective services. The JTA was the foundation for creation of the Job Task Statement (JTS) which lists the skills knowledge that a competent, professional EP agent must command.
A SURVEY OF EP PRACTITIONERS
In order to test the validity of the Job Task Statement, a survey was developed to be taken by actual EP practitioners. The purpose of the survey is to determine the frequency and importance of applying and performing the tasks listed in the JTS, “…to get a good feel for the job requirements of dignitary and executive protection professionals.” The survey will be used to validate that the certification is, “…aligned with the ‘real world’ demands of someone working in these areas [EP].”
If you want to participate in this survey, you can access it at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/N5B9CLG
EDUCATION, EXPERIENCE, AND TESTING
Another key task for the ABCDEP Board was to establish the baseline requirements for certification: 1) Evidence of training and education in dignitary and executive protection that is consistent with the doctrine and knowledge enumerated in the JTA; 2) a minimum of two years of cumulative protection experience; 3) successfully pass the ABCDEP certification examination.
A board committee is currently developing an objective standard and methodology by which a certification candidate’s educational achievements will be evaluated. This includes the pre-approval of schools and training programs whose curriculum comports with the standard established by the ABCDEP. That standard will be objectively based on the JTA and JTS. If a school is pre-approved, it will mean that a candidate’s educational credentials will be automatically accepted.
The documentation of work experience will be the responsibility of the candidate. A committee of board members will evaluate the student’s experience.
Another board committee is working on the design of the certification exam, pending the results of the survey.
OBJECTIVITY IN THE ABCDEP CERTIFICATION PROCESS
In the training world it is common practice to conduct training, test students, and issue a certificate. That is a reasonable and accepted practice. But it is not the same as certification, mainly because the training and certificate come from the same source: the training provider. This process lacks the independent verification that a student commands the knowledge required to perform the task.
In order to meet the generally accepted standards for professional certification – in any field – the certification candidate must first obtain their training and education, then pass an accredited examination created by an independent entity. Using this independent testing methodology ensures that a candidate actually possesses the knowledge necessary to meet the standard established for that certification. Moreover, this arms-length validation of education, experience, and examination will foster confidence in an end-user who employs an EP agent.
As stated previously, in order to maintain an objective separation and avoid any conflict of interest that would degrade the credibility and high-value of the certification, neither the ABCHS nor the ABCDEP will offer any training in the field of dignitary and executive protection. Furthermore, no member of the ABCDEP Board who offers for-profit training is allowed to serve on the committee that evaluates student education and training, and approves training providers.
AN INDUSTRY COMMUNITY DRIVEN EFFORT
This certification initiative is not the product of a single entity or individual with a narrow perspective. It involves several independent organizations, the EP community, and the combined effort of 15 professionals with varied backgrounds, education and training, and experience who have devoted considerable time and energy at their own expense to create a credible certification in dignitary and executive protection that will benefit not only the practitioners, but the end-users of protective security services.
Information about the ABCDEP, board members, and the ABCHS, is available on the ABCDEP website.
Disclosure & Disclaimer: Michael Nossaman, President of the Protective Security Council, is a volunteer member of the ABCDEP Board of Directors, and serves as the Board Secretary. Neither he, nor the Protective Security Council has any business or financial relationship with the ABCDEP or the ABCHS. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The content and accuracy of this article is the sole responsibility of the author and the Protective Security Council, and is not an official statement of the ABCHS, the ABCDEP, or the ABCDEP Board of Directors.
Permission to Reproduce. Permission to reproduce this copyrighted article, in part or whole and unedited, is granted provided you give attribution to the author and source, and include a link to the original article.
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