Westchester Q&A: Security Expert Ed Gerrity
Why Ed’s not just “a thug with a gun” and other myths about the personal security biz
Photo by John Rizzo
How did you get into this line of work?
Growing up as a kid in Rye, my father, a high-profile executive at ITT, had 24-hour protection around him for at least seven years and it captured my interest. The Charles Manson Family threatened him on a regular basis.
Were you worried for your family’s safety?
Not worried so much as fascinated.
So what’s the correct terminology for someone in your line of work? Has bodyguard fallen out of favor?
Certified Protection Specialist or CPS, though most people would call us a bodyguard. In addition to having executive protection training, I have a license to carry a firearm and am a certified emergency medical technician, as well as a former firefighter. I also have a Bachelor’s from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
You’re a big guy. Just how big?
I am 6’1” and weigh 250 pounds.
Do you think you look intimidating?
I’m told yes—I don’t mean to be.
Is that a plus when you’re working?
I don’t think it hurts.
What celebs have you protected?
Curtis Jackson—50 Cent, the Olsen twins, Matt Damon, Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Tiger Woods, to name a few.
What are your current professional responsibilities?
For the past nine years, I’ve been director of security and transportation for St. Vincent’s Hospital Westchester in Harrison, responsible for the main hospital and several group homes and methadone clinics. And I’ve been the security supervisor for The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester since its re-opening in September 2012.
Tell us about your newest business venture.
I founded Got G.U.T.S. or Gerrity’s Underage Transportation & Security, a little over a year ago. Being in security, I’ve seen many things, like kids bailing out on their friends at a concert the first time they go to one without Mom or Dad, that made me realize our kids need to be better protected. So we transport kids to and from various venues—concerts, movies, proms, ski trips, et cetera—staying with them or right outside, as requested, and making sure they get home safely.
How is this different from sending a babysitter?
Our specialists, many of whom are off-duty law enforcement, are trained not to panic no matter what the situation and, as first responders, they can provide immediate medical attention. I can’t guarantee that Johnny isn’t going to find himself intoxicated but I am guaranteeing that he will get home safely.
What do you emphasize regarding safety with your own kids?
I want them to be proactive, to know where the closest window is if they have to jump and where the exits are. I didn’t grow up like that; it was ‘here’s a roll of quarters and you’ll be at Playland for the day.’
What’s the most common misconception people have about a protection specialist?
That he’s just a thug with a gun. To the contrary, we are well-trained professionals who are trained to react to anything calmly.
What’s more useful in your line of work: brains or brawn?
Brains, because if you use your brains and know how to deal with people, you don’t need brawn or muscle.
What’s the most amusing thing that’s happened to you on the job?
People’s reactions—it’s almost like being a guard in London at Buckingham Palace. But you can’t really talk to people because you don’t know if you’re being set up.
Isn’t it boring, waiting around a lot for something not to happen?
That’s part of it but it’s not really boredom—we assume the worst and hope for the best. Unfortunately, with the shooting of the Congresswoman in Colorado or [the shootings in] Sandy Hook, there’s really no place off limits to anything bad happening nowadays.