George Mason Police Trains Officers to Protect Important Guests

Posted: January 23, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Erick Soricelli

Distinguished guests pass through the George Mason campus on a regular basis. Some visitors who are high-ranking government officials or celebrities with speaking engagements bring their own protection services and security. But even so, the University Police must take extensive measures to ensure these notable personalities have a pleasant experience at Mason.

To better prepare officers for such guests, the University Police have been conducting an executive protection course at the Aquatic and Fitness Center this week. Several members of Mason’s own force joined officers from the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office, the National Security Agency, City of Fairfax Police Department, and the Virginia Commonwealth University Police for a series of classes and innovative training sessions designed to prepare law enforcement personnel for professional hands-on personal protection of executives, politicians, religious and world leaders.

Lt. Norman Barnes, assistant operation bureau commander for the University Police, coordinated the course, which concludes today when officers will participate in a performance-based training mission. George Mason is the first university in Virginia to host such a course, Barnes says.

“We entertain a lot of high-profile people here at Mason,” Barnes says. “We work with a lot of agencies that come in with their own protection, and we need to be a full-service police force. In order to do that, we need to have our people trained to augment and supplement these protection services.”

Also, Mason police need to take the lead to plan for these events. Barnes recalls that such protection measures were needed in December at the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council meeting attended by both Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia and Gov. Bob Ehrlich of Maryland.

The course instructors are Sgt. Thomas Bradshaw from the Virginia State Police’s Bureau of Field Operations in Fredericksburg, State Trooper Austin White from the Governor of Virginia’s Executive Protection Unit, and Rafi Ron, president of Washington, D.C.-based New Age Security Solutions.

Officers in the course participated in a wide variety of personal protection topics, including team preparation, advance work, practical escorts, protective formations, vehicle searches, motorcades, explosive devices, protective movements, and medical emergencies. They also learn how to work with U.S. State Department and U.S. Secret Service representatives.

Barnes stresses that officers should take the course at least once a year, and he plans to teach the course again in the summer. He will also work with other state university police forces to help them begin their own courses.

Write to at