Levels of Protection and the
Cessation of Protection
In a free and open society, we simply cannot protect every person
against every risk at every moment in every place. There is no
perfect security … in order to protect our country and defend our
freedoms; we must continue to focus our resources on the areas
that pose the greatest risk.
Michael Chertoff (February 14, 2006)
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security
On Monday, July 19, 2010, at around 5:20 a.m. in Athens, Greece, there
was a knock on the door at the home of Sokratis Giolias, a well-known
local journalist. Despite the early hour, Giolias opened the door after
three men in uniform informed him that his car had been stolen. As the
door opened, the three men armed with 9 mm pistols opened re with a
volley of 16 rounds, 13 of which found their mark. As Giolias fell to the
ground, the three assassins ed the scene in a nearby car. The car, which
was found to have been stolen prior to the attack, was recovered later in
the day, burned out.
Giolias was the rst journalist to be assassinated in Greece in over
20 years. The bullet casings matched those used in the killing of a police
ofcer, as well as one found on the grave stone of a 15-year-old boy who
was killed in 2008 by police. The attack was claimed by a group calling
themselves the Revolutionary Sect, although there are many who ques-
tion that admission. It was later reported that Giolias had refused to hire
any protection, even though he admitted to having made many enemies.
With every threat/risk assessment, ultimately a decision has to be
made as to the level of protection that is to be provided, if any. Without
known or potential threats identied, the minimum level of protection is
to educate individuals in providing for their own security (in the author’s
opinion, this should be the minimum that is provided to any threatened
person even if deemed to be false). It is here where the divergence of the
commonalities between federal protective agencies and local law enforce-
ment are perhaps the greatest. With leaders of countries and high-rank-
ing government ofcials, protection is a 24/7, 365 days a year operation. It
therefore is known, planned, funded, and staffed. These large operations
can also be provided by some state and larger local agencies providing
details for governors and/or mayors; however, this is not often the case.
Interestingly, it has been reported that as late as 1967, the then-governor
of California, Ronald Reagan, did not have a full-time protective detail.
Even today, many lawmakers do not have physical protection provided
on a daily basis.
The decision on what level of protection to provide is wrought with
unknowns. A decision should, of course, rely on the role of the principal,
the nature of the case, the duration of the operation (i.e., trial, etc.), the
adversary, and manpower and economic constraints. Couple this with the
known or perceived threat, it is a decision that is not and should not be
quickly made. It also is imperative to understand that this decision alone
has the most potential for second-guessing and civil liability than perhaps
all others, except the use of deadly force. Ultimately, when the perceived
threat is gone, or perhaps worse, cannot be conrmed, what then?
Case in Point: On Wednesday, June 30, 2010, at approximately 9:30 p.m. in Ciudad Juarez, in
the Mexican state of Chihuahua, Sandra Ivonne Salas Garcia, an assistant attorney general,
was assassinated by members of the armed wing of the Juarez drug cartel, known as La
Linea. The attack occurred as she was in transit between her ofce and her residence.
Unknown to her, cartel gunmen were positioned in four vehicles, two parked in the parking
lot of the nearby supermarket, a third was parked across the street near a park, and the
fourth was in a parking lot of a restaurant.
In the attack on Salas, she was in the company of a two-member pro-
tective detail. At some point, either her or one of her two protective mem-
bers became aware of the vehicles and increased the speed. As her vehicle