During my first career as a New York State Trooper and rising through the ranks from a Trooper to a Captain, the amount of paperwork we generated was staggering. Small forests were consumed annually by all the reports, charts, etc. that we typically wrote. As I transitioned into the private sector, so did the voluminous reports. Naturally, like most companies, we here at AT-RISK International try to go “green” to save the trees however I still cannot escape the large reports.
One of the most necessary and essential reports is the agent’s brief. The agent’s brief is the “who”, “what”, “where” and “how” of your protection operation and acts as a guide for all the details involved in the project. This report is standard, and most companies use it in one form or another. There is an art to balancing all the vital information to be included in the brief.
In preparation for writing this blog I looked over a few of the reports that I had written in the past. Some were as short as 4-5 pages and I found one that was 181 pages long! The latter brief wasn’t just a basic operation however, it was for a three-week international tour that I did with an entertainer. The key takeaway is to ensure the content of the report reflects the intensity of the engagement and that all relevant details are outlined to help ensure the safety of your principal(s).
Here are a few of my thoughts on the important items that should be included in your next agent’s brief:
- Contact information: list everyone’s phone number and email that are involved in the detail. Don’t list them alphabetically or according to rank. Make it easier on yourself and list them in order of necessity keeping in mind how likely you are to contact a specific person.
- Emergency services: sounds basic but make sure you have accurate phone numbers and addresses for police, fire and hospitals. Don’t forget to confirm which hospital is a trauma center.
- Itinerary: this is one of my favorite categories. I like to be as detailed as possible listing dates, times, locations, arrivals and departures. If it is a long assignment I often use this area to check off completed tasks to keep me motivated and focused through the entire detail.
- Client bio: depending on the size of the detail you may consider including some private information on your client. Don’t assume everyone on the assignment will be as diligent as you and know everything about the client.
- Lodging information: although routine, this information is sometimes overlooked. Include the name and phone numbers for the hotel manager, security director and concierge. Also list the hotel restaurant hours and perhaps the cuisine.
- Intelligence: can you identify planned protests in the areas you’ll be visiting? Have your Security Operations Center (SOC) do a time sensitive crime map plotting the areas to avoid.
- Embassy and consulate: for international travel make certain you have the addresses and phone numbers to these offices.
- Attractions: whether your client’s trip is business or leisure, you’re likely to have downtime. To be well versed on local events and things to do can help improve your work product from “great” to “above and beyond”. Venues such as shopping malls, movie theatres, Broadway shows, professional sports games and amusements parks just to name a few.
- Photos/maps: everyone has and uses navigational apps on their phone or in their car however can you exclusively rely on them 100% of the time? Include in your brief a few maps of the areas you’ll be visiting. List your alternate routes of travel as well. Also have a couple photos of the office building you may be visiting.
Those are some of the more common items to note in your agent’s brief. I take it a step further and have some of the below mentioned items listed as well:
- Dress code/attire: of course, this can change last minute but if your client or their assistant gives you a heads up on whether to be in a suit and tie, or dressed for the golf course, list it in the brief.
- Equipment: basic and mundane but things to keep in mind are flashlight, first aid bag, chargers (portable, car), armed versus unarmed, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, food supplements, etc.
- Tracking system: will your company or the client’s board of directors require your principal to be tracked while traveling internationally in some less than ideal territories? Make sure it is listed.
- Communications: are you using cell phones? WhatsApp? Radios?
- Time zones: if your trip is lengthy with several stops, some of them may be in different time zones. Do your homework beforehand and list the areas and specific time zones for the locations you’ll be visiting.
- Weather: this is one of the last things I update before completing the final draft of the brief. I know everyone can check the weather forecast and receive minute by minute updates on their phone, but why not list it on the brief? It only takes a few minutes and is just one more step to show your thoroughness in planning the trip.
Some of these items may be customary and routine for you and your colleagues however it is worth re-emphasizing. All of us need to avoid complacency. The key to an accurate agent brief is to keep it functional. Too long, and important items may be overlooked. Too short, and you may not have included all the essential items.
Arthur Boyko is an Operations Manager at AT-RISK International where he supervises day-to-day investigations and protection engagements. He has over 25 years of combined law enforcement and private security experience and has received over 75 commendations for his exceptional professionalism, significant arrests and acts of bravery during his time as a New York State Trooper.