November 27, 2014

Person of Interest: Conrad Long

Conrad LongThe Bodyguard and the Toddlers

Remember the movie the Bodyguard? Conrad Long lives it every day. Well, sort of. Instead of Whitney Houston, his clients are more often toddlers from the Saudi royal family. But other than that … pretty similar.

It’s still exciting and glamorous and filled with intrigue; it’s just that he might need to secure a pretend tea party with wee people from the House of Saud.

A former military member with an EMT background, Long joined Naples-based Drago Protective Services last year and has quickly developed a specialty most of us didn’t really realize existed: child protective services. “I kind of have a little niche with the children,” says Long. “I’m really good with kids. I like kids, and kids, especially little Saudi kids, are fun. It’s enjoyable. I’m hanging out and I’m high-fiving …”

But while the kids might be playing and exploring with Long, he’s also got in the back of his mind that anything could happen. After all, these children are not only worth a staggering amount of money, they can also be used as bargaining chips or as revenge targets in the volatile Middle East. One bad day, and the world changes.

The self-deprecating Long, 28, tends to describe himself as a concierge with a gun, and to some extent he’s right. “What we do is a little bit different than the standard bodyguard or bouncer. We deal with a very select clientele—maybe the one percent of the one percent: royal families, foreign dignitaries, Fortune 100 companies, CEOs, etc.” At any time he is capable of suggesting area restaurants, boutiques, parks or entertainment for the royal family he is guarding. And yes, he might end up holding a shopping bag or two. But his guard is never down.

“The art of the craft is that you have to be able to gauge someone, to be able to gauge the situation,” says Long. “It’s especially stressful with the little kids. If you have a little three- or four-year-old kid, he wants to walk or run and see everything. And you’re joking and playing, too, but at the same time there’s this little thing in the back of your head—you are aware …”

That’s good thinking because there have been times where Drago agents have come under fire. Long’s boss was shot protecting a banker in South America. The banker was unharmed. (The same can’t be said for the boss’s leg.) Another time a book bomb was delivered to a house of a family they were protecting. They discovered it and had the bomb squad dispose of it.