ABCDEP Update - March 2012
Posted March 28, 2012

Written by David L. Johnson, DABCHS, CHS-V

Posted with permission from Inside Homeland Security Magazine

The efforts of the members of the board for the American Board for Certification in Dignitary and Executive Protection (ABCDEP) are bringing us closer to the first accreditation certification for this profession ever offered in the United States. On August 4th, 2011, the 16 member board approved a formally prepared Job Task Analysis that defines the approved doctrine and essential elements of knowledge that will be used to craft the remaining components of the certification process. The board, comprised of 16 unpaid, volunteering professionals who possess an incredible cumulative total of over 324 years of relevant experience in dignitary and executive protection skills, comes from all of the major government and private vertical sectors performing these kind of protective operations within the United States today. Former members of the U.S. Secret Service, the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security Services, and the U.S. Army’s Protective Services Unit, who are all current and active practitioners in the private sector today, along with members from the corporate security, private and law enforcement training organizations, and other corporate and private sector entities, are all working together to make this vision a reality Why do we believe that this will be the accreditation certification process so long needed within and for this field of endeavor?

That’s an easy answer with multiple justifying criterions:

  • All of the board members are unpaid volunteers and are credible professionals with a history of conducting successful protective operations. Not one person associated with this board is doing so with the view of obtaining economic benefits directly for themselves through this endeavor.
  • The certification process is sponsored by The American Board for Certification in Homeland Security. This is a non-biased broad based professional association that is not a provider of training services. Under their auspices, ABCDEP will be only an independent testing organization verifying and validating your professional knowledge in the realm of providing dignitary and executive protection services.
  • The examination will be developed and structured based upon the foundation of the formally prepared and approved Job Task Analysis and application for test accreditation through the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE) under standard (IS)/IEC 17024.
  • An examination test content outline will be derived from the Job Task Analysis. This is an academically professional process driven approach.
  • Test Item construction will be accomplished in accordance with the Item Developers Guide from the Professional Testing Corporation®. Each test item is edited and validated by ABCDEP Board Members serving as Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) for clarity, content and conformity with the Job Task Analysis.
  • The cut score (passing point) used for all ABCHS certification exams including the one being developed for the ABCDEP program is the Angoff Modified technique, the popular criterion-referenced approach to establishing cut scores for certification exams. The ABCDEP Examination Development Committee uses the Angoff Modified Technique under the direct supervision of a fully qualified psychometrician. Committee members’ pooled judgment is used to establish final cut scores. Another issue of note is this: In the professional certification world, anyone who provides training and conducts a follow-on examination provides a “certificate” course, and this is not considered to be the same level of a “certification” program. In order to meet the generally accepted standards of a professional certification program, the candidate must obtain their training prior to going to the independent testing agency that will provide an examination process that independently verifies that the candidate actually possesses the knowledge necessary to meet whatever standard is established for that certification. As previously stated, neither ABCHS nor ABCDEP will become a provider of dignitary or executive protection training programs in order to maintain their objective separation and avoid conflict of interest issues degrading the ability to provide certification. In order to achieve and support that objective, three committees have been established to develop and support the professional processes that will be used to provide the final certification.

They are:

  • The Training and Education Committee will look at various training entities available to practitioners in government, military, and private sectors, and will create a method and procedure for evaluating and approving qualified training providers and to evaluate and approve those providers as feeder programs providing training to prospective ABCDEP certification candidates. The main criteria is based upon adherence to generally accepted U.S. protective doctrine as articulated in the approved Job Task Analysis. 
  • The Candidate Evaluation Committee will produce a method and standard for determining how an applicant’s experience will be measured and to perform evaluations of actual applicants’ experience to determine if they meet qualifications to take the examination. 
  • The Examination Committee will develop the academic evaluation based upon the standards and processes articulated earlier in this article. 

This is not a single entity, single person process developed from a narrow perspective. This is a comprehensive and professional process following accepted and formal standards meeting the litmus test that all professional certifications should meet.

The process is not completed, and both the process and the website ( being established for this program are currently under development. If you’d like to see who the various board members are and to see the thumbnail biographical sketch of their careers, you can click on the individual board member names on the home page of that website, under the About tab.

If you ply this profession and are interested in obtaining the professional certification that will set you apart from the rest of that labor market, please stay tuned for further announcements as the program matures.