6 minute read


By Jose Casillas

foot steps

Episode 8: Monica Duperon Rodriguez

Monica Duperon Rodriguez is a seasoned professional protector who has worn many hats as she navigated a path to success through two maledominated career fields, in both law enforcement and executive protection. Having the opportunity to speak with her, I realized that the adversities that she faced were simply fuel for the engine that has driven her to accomplish her goals time and again.

What drew you into law enforcement and how was your experience?

I was a facility manager at a recreational center and the police would periodically check up on us. One day an officer brought me an application and told me to apply. I had nothing to lose, and they needed a bilingual female officer. In law enforcement, I learned to become a multifaceted chameleon, someone who can be fluid in maneuvering on how to do things.

I worked for the Clearwater police department and Pasco sheriff department on several special assignments such as hostage negotiations, SWAT, undercover narcotics & gang units.

How did you transition to Executive Protection and what type of EP details did you work?

In my law enforcement career, I made contacts in the EP industry, and I was contacted by a fellow colleague and was asked to send my resume. However, I didn't think much of it. However, the client flew to me and interviewed me. After a few months passed, I was told the client wanted to meet again and make me an offer. That's when I realized I have more to offer. I can do more than shake drugs off a dealer or patrol the streets. It was then I realized my niche. I was sought after because I was a female who was bilingual with a background in law enforcement. Most would think that being a female in a male-dominated industry would be hindering, but I used that to my advantage. After all, I was already used to working twice as hard in law enforcement. I knew I could do it again in executive protection.

I was working with ICON for 3-4 years and it was my time there got me ready for my own client. I leveraged my mentorship to aid me in my longevity, and paid homage to my mentors and the industry. A lot of guys take shortcuts and don't last very long.

What type of EP details did you navigate yourself through while in the profession?

My very first detail was a book tour which took me to Africa, Canada, Mexico and several states in the U.S. I worked with antipoaching and food sustainability programs. But my very first stop on the book was in an area that had a lot of protests going on and there was more V.I.P.s than just my client. It was chaotic and it was a crash course into EP in which I had navigate through the chaos and show no fear. Growing up in Chicago instilled that into me. I've also had 4 or 5 medical trips to Guatemala where I doubled as an interpreter and security.

How did you transition into EP? I know once you get on a contract you have to get the ball rolling yourself and keep busy.

Networking, Networking, Networking! I would network with other protectors, exchanging info, asking questions, and always remembering to being sincere. I would say that is critical when it comes to networking. My objective is to make them remember me.

After my first client, I got a call for a 1-month detail that turned into 4. I've work some overseas details and royal family details for royal princesses of Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai. I also did a short tour with an artist.

What is your most memorable detail? And what were some hurdles and obstacles and the end result of it all when the assignment was finally completed?

I worked for National Geographic protecting crews while filming in El Salvador and Mexico. I am particularly proud of that and two of the most dangerous assignments I’ve been on. They were filming a documentary on abortion in El Salvador where abortion is illegal. In Mexico they were filming about cartels, poppy seed harvesting, and American pharmaceutical companies. In El Salvador our biggest consideration was government perception and MS13. I can’t go into too much detail, but we had a few tense moments. Mexico was a bit different. We were in different states, and it was a bit touch and go at times. But the biggest hurdle to overcome was making sure to we were not perceived as security or worse the Drug Enforcement Authority. We were asked a couple times. However, this is one great example of being able to disarm with words and making others feel comfortable. Only in Acapulco did we have the military police with us. When we went through Guerrero and into Mexico City, we were on our own. No police presence or assistance. However, we did have contingencies in place for immediate rescue and extraction if needed. We had no local support as it was too dangerous for the mission. Abortion is illegal and carries stiff penalties, so much so that it is dangerous to even have a conversation about that subject. On a positive note, that documentary won a film award. Looking back, I was proud of the entire crew for this one.

What are some lessons that you learned while working in the Executive Protection industry?

I learned to become a minimalist, to always be available. This career taught me to make selfassessments. I learned that being a female isn't always advantageous. Sometimes clients don't want a woman. I learned not to take anything personally, but instead make a recommendation on who else would be a better fit for that detail. This in turn helps build stronger relationships with your networking.

What is one of your strongest traits in EP and what is one notable difference from law enforcement to executive protection?

For me, it's communication. I know how to talk and relate to people and make them feel comfortable. Law enforcement doesn't teach you how to interact with corporate executives. Others who have found it hard is because they're still in law enforcement mode. They exude ‘police’ by the way they stand, talk, and interact. In EP, there's a time and place for it. Soft skills are very much needed when it comes to working with a high net-worth family.

How was your experience as a woman in law enforcement and in executive protection?

It wasn't a cake walk in law enforcement. I had to break the stereotype of the perceived notion they had of a woman. Because of this, most woman have to work twice as hard to have a seat at the table. With that said, it's okay to be yourself. Be feminine, demonstrate both your soft and hard skills. It's that mixture that makes it’s easier to blend in.

What are you doing these days?

I am a Safety Security Manager for a tech company in Silicon Valley. I manage offices in Canada, Mexico City, Brazil, Columbia and the U.S. I cover EP for some events and connect with security companies to make sure we have enough staff.

If someone were to follow your footsteps what is some advice you would give them?

I would tell them to never give up. Learn as much as you can and have thick skin. Don't get discouraged. People will judge you. Always network and stay concrete.

Jose Casillas is a Los Angles based Executive Protection Agent who specializes in red carpet events, movie premiers & estate security. He also teaches martial arts and works as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).

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