Secret service like training mission in Mishawaka

MISHAWAKA, Ind. -- If you were out in about in Mishawaka Sunday and were doing a little shopping on Grape Road you may have seen a team of distinguished looking men in black suits, wearing dark sunglasses and ear pieces.

These men were on a Secret Service-like training mission. The fake synopsis was to protect a wealthy business mogul from Chicago who was in Michiana for a few hours and wanted to go shopping.

Part of the synopsis was played out at University Park Mall and other nearby shopping complexes. The training was put on by a private company out of Sturgis, Michigan called The BodyGuard Academy.

Members of the Personal Protection Class participated in their final practical hands on exercise, where everything they have learned in the 7-day course was put to use in Mishawaka.

"They could be people in the entertainment and sports industry, they could be victims to domestic violence and stalkers," said Ed Becher, the owner and director of The BodyGuard Academy.

But the client, a blond haired woman was a staged one for the purpose of their training exercise in Mishawaka.

"This is their final practical exam where they get to act as members of a protective team providing close security for a high wealthy businesswoman out of Chicago, is the scenario, who has death threats," said Becher."Our business mainly does training programs for security professionals, bodyguards, bounty-hunters, people that want to be investigators."

People like 21-year-old Collin Searer of Elkhart who is enrolled in the intense 7-day program.

"We've learned very basic tactics, defensive tactics in order to prevent something big from happening," said Searer who just landed a security job in Middlebury.

Becher said,"The curriculum entails things like assassination, kidnapping studies, IED's and bombs, surveillance and surveillance detection."

About half of the course is taught in a classroom, but the other part included mock real life hands on scenarios in plain sight, which can attract a lot of looks.

"When they start seeing guys in suits, wearing earpieces , they want to know who's here? What VIP is here? What dignitary is here?" Becher said.

Becher knows all about protecting dignitaries.

"I started out on Madeleine Albright's front doorstep, when she was Secretary, then they moved me to a building, then they told me I knew too much and moved me to a school house to teach." he said.

And he continued teaching in this unique private practice after he retired from the U.S. Dept. of State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

"I try to keep the classroom small. This way, it's more personal interaction with the students," said Becher.

Which is ideal when he is making sure they apply what he's taught them, especially during the final practical exam.

Becher said, "We are just going to let them walk through the mall, let her go shopping. They are there if she needs them and if the situation should arise they are there."

Last year the BodyGuard Academy was named one of the top bail enforcement agent schools in the United States. The program is the only one in the state of Michigan.

The next class will be offered in April. To find out more information visit the company's website at

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