With protests erupting across the country during the pandemic and some calling to defund the police, many people are now looking for new ways to stay safe.
“When people start getting stretched and they’re already living on the ends, at what point do you start seeing good people make bad decisions,” said Mark James, owner of Panther Protection Services, a private security company in Atlanta, Georgia.
His bodyguard services have increased 40% in the past four months, while the firearms training that he offers has increased more than 300% in the same time frame.
“People who have never been gun owners before are now buying guns,” he said. “Those people who are buying guns are saying, ‘I have to learn how to use a gun that I just bought for my own personal protection.’”
This increase in private security is happening across the country.
“Bodyguard services went up at least 100% since this whole COVID-19 era has started, along with some of the racial tensions that are going on,” said Dexter Ravenell, owner of Around the Clock Security in North Carolina.
For the past few months, Ravenell has been getting requests from all kinds of people.
“From Blacks, whites, Hispanics, male, female,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like this as far as the demand that we are getting.”
The cost for Ravenell’s services starts at $40 per hour and goes up from there.
“It’s good for business but morally it’s kind of sad to see that we’re coming to that now,” he said.
James wouldn’t tell us how much he charges but did give some safety tips for free.
“I always walk wide to make sure there’s no one on the other side of my vehicle,” he said.
James says the best safety advice he can offer is situational awareness.
“I’m always looking at the small things which keep me from having to do big things,” he said.