Find Your Way

I always wanted to be a policeman (law enforcement officer was not even a title back then). I had all the cop toys and guns, watched all the cop tv shows, played cops and robbers with my friends. I never wavered. Never wanted to be anything else. All that changed on November 22, 1963.

I was 7. The whole world changed that day. Our President had been assassinated. I watched every one of the 3 or 4 tv stations we had back then flipped the channels by hand. I was devastated and fascinated by the whole thing. I learned what a Secret Service agent was and what they did and decided that was the kind of cop I wanted to be. I knew they were cops because their cars had red lights.

When we returned to school after Kennedy’s funeral, I went straight to the library to see if they had any books about the Secret Service. I was afraid they wouldn’t have anything because after all their name was Secret Service. They had one. Just one. I decided that the SS wasn’t really what I wanted to do. I just wanted to do protection.

There were two assassination attempts on Ford. Fast forward I got hired by the P.D. and moved on still trying to figure out how to protect people. Hinkley shot Reagan. Protection kept biting at me. Sadat was assassinated. I was sure I was missing my calling.

Our chief was going to host a meeting at a local restaurant attended by about 30 other chiefs. There was turmoil going on at the time and he thought he should supply security. He knew I had an interest in protection so, he called me.

Suddenly I had a protection assignment! Then it occurred to me that I was just like the dog that chases cars. I had caught the car but, what do I do with it? Who could I call? I didn’t have a clue. I was on my own. I had about two days to figure it out.

I started with three goals. Keep everybody safe. Make the chief look good and make myself look like I knew what I was doing. It all came to me so easily. I went to the venue and met with the manager. Talked and walked the event with her. Picked a more secure banquet room than what she had planned. Roped off enough parking spots for everyone at the rear. Secured the rear door for the chiefs to enter and exit. Identified the servers for the dinner meeting. Arranged with the hostess at the front to alert me if she saw a problem or if a bomb threat came in.

I had just done an advance and didn’t know it. I made it look like I was everywhere all night. Everything went smooth! The chief was happy, and the other chiefs were impressed.

A month or so later I picked up a magazine that had an ad for EPI. I think it was a Robb Report. I called and requested their information on training. I got a packet of info and put together a training request. I told the chief to watch for it to hit his desk. Luckily, the info I had received listed the fact that the troopers from our Governor’s Security Detail had attended. What!!?? I called the state police it took a couple of days to get a call back but, I had someone to talk to about protection! I had just networked and didn’t know it!

The chief got my training request and called me in. First question was, had I by chance talked to anyone at the state police about the school. I told him I had, and it was recommended. Then he explained that for the cost to send just me he could spend that same amount on ammo, flashlights etc. that would benefit everyone. Logical, expected but, still disappointing that I wouldn’t be going to EPI.

I kept in touch with a trooper and learned what I could from him. About a year later we get a new mayor and with a new mayor comes a new chief. I was also a little smarter after a year.

The new mayor was a female. She was a local business owner and wealthy. The new chief had been my shift commander. The mayor had been in office a few months when she was driving home in her Mercedes. Stopped at a red light, a guy steps off the curb with a brick and breaks her front passenger window. He got her purse and was in the wind. By the time she drove to the P.D. to report what had happened there was little hope of catching the bad guy who she couldn’t describe. We did recover her purse minus her cash.

She was scheduled for a big event the next day at a Country Club. The chief wanted me to drive her because she was still a little upset, there would be a large crowd and media. Smooth event until we were headed back to the car. We had to walk through some grass and her heel got stuck. She has been holding onto my arm, so it was an easy catch. Got her home and my mind started spinning. I was outside when the chief drove by. He stopped to see how the event had gone. As told him about her losing her heel it hit me. I told him that if I was going to keep doing “special details” I thought I should get some training.

We talked about my old request to the old chief for a few minutes and he asked the cost. It was just under $2000 at that time I think, and he wasn’t shocked but, he told me to figure out how he was ever going to be able to justify the cost. I told him that I had already told him how to do it. I said first it was the smashed car window and then her walking out of her shoe and almost falling. I said if anything bad happens to her, you’re out of a job. The next budget had the EPI cost added on top of the Training line item with no explanation and I was on my way to EPI. 41 years later and I’m done. What a great ride! Thank you, EPI! 

Jim Cutrell, PPS; Executive Protection Institute Graduate, NLA Member