Diplomatic Security Service public tips

The US Department of State is a massive machinery of diplomacy, foreign policy and – perhaps less known – law enforcement.

The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) or Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) is the law enforcement arm of the DoS, sending agents, mostly so-called RSO’s (Regional Security Officers) to foreign missions and embassies, in charge of the missions security and safety.

What is less known is that these RSO’s are available to the American traveller, for advice and help on how to ensure and maintain a safe environment while abroad. It is recommended that if you travel abroad and are unsure of the local environment when it comes to your personal safety, the embassy’s RSO or Assisting RSO (ARSO) be contacted for up-to-date and relevant information.

But the State Department goes a little further in helping. On its site, State.gov , there are thousands of pages available to the public, among them some excellent resources for personal security, both while at home and while travelling.

Below are two links, both to pdf documents. The first one is an outline intended for embassy or consular personnel, diplomats and staff to ensure safety. To a normal traveler, some of the measures may seem overly paranoid, but that is not so. It is, however, true that not all of the tips and instructions in the first pdf are relevant to a normal tourist or business traveler, but they are good tips regardless.
Personal preferences and common sense should dictate which one to follow in your personal environment.

The second link is a pdf document intended for American business travelers, though the contents will apply to anyone, anywhere, traveling for business or pleasure. This document is 67 pages long, and it is strongly recommended that it be read in its entirety. After that, incorporate the tips and instructions that you find are applicable to your personal environment.

Link 1: Intended for embassy and consular staff

Link 2: Intended for business travelers and tourists

Click on the “More” link below to see a very condensed list of measures to take when travelling abroad, adopted from the document in Link 1.

Personal Security While Traveling

  • Check plane, train, and bus times before you travel.
  • Sit near other people or near aisles or doors. Learn the location of emergency alarms and exits.
  • Stay awake and alert when using public transportation.
  • Consider purchasing special clothing or accessories to hide your passport, money, or credit cards. Keep the majority of your funds in travelers checks and hidden; carry some in your wallet or handbag. Use a money clip. If you are robbed, you may lose the money in the clip but will retain important credit cards and documents.
  • Keep valuables out of sight and luggage close at hand. If carrying a handbag, keep it in front of you, closed, with the fastening toward your body. Keep a wallet in your front pants pocket.
  • Let go if your bag is snatched.
  • Do some research on the area you are visiting. Talk to your security officer or consular colleagues regarding travel advisories or warnings.
  • When traveling, dress casually; dress down where appropriate. Be aware of local customs.
  • Don’t wear excess jewelry. Reduce wallet and purse contents, particularly cards denoting affiliations, memberships, accounts, etc.
  • At airports, proceed through security checks and go to the boarding area as quickly as possible. These areas are usually the most secure in the airport.
  • In any crowded situation, be aware of any crowding or jostling, even if it appears innocent. This is often a ploy by pickpockets to distract you.
  • Be very careful any time you use a telephone calling card. Fraudulent uses of these cards are on the rise. Look for people observing your card or your fingers as you dial your code. Avoid being heard giving the number to local telephone operators.

Personal Security in Hotels

  • Do not discuss your business or travel plans in public areas where they may be overheard. Discuss your travel plans and movements during your stay with as few people as possible.
  • Selecting a hotel room on the third to fifth floor generally will keep you out of reach of criminal activity from the street but still within reach of most fire truck ladders.
  • Do not entertain strangers in your hotel room.
  • Be alert to overly friendly locals who may have criminal intentions. They may offer to take you to a “special” restaurant. Their ruse may be to offer drugged refreshments.
  • Never leave valuables in your hotel room exposed or unattended, even in a locked suitcase.
  • Place valuables–money, jewelry, airplane tickets, credit cards, passport–in a hotel safe deposit box or room safe.
  • Familiarize yourself with escape routes in case of fire or other catastrophe.
  • Use the door chain or bolt lock whenever you are in your room.
  • Use the door viewer (peephole) before opening the door to visitors.
  • Do not discuss your room number while standing in the lobby or leave your room key on restaurant or bar tables.
  • Keep your room neat so you will notice disturbed or missing items quickly.

As mentioned before, the 67 page pdf document in Link 2 is very informative and comprehensive. It is recommended that the whole thing is read, but not all of it is applicable to every travel situation.

0 Replies to “Diplomatic Security Service public tips”

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