Change of pace for new security head who was embassy guard in Iraq


Gaby Benelyahu

PROTECT: Pete Pietry watches at gate. He is one of four new security guards part of the security group.

By Jacob Feitelberg, Staff Writer

On April 6, Shalhevet stepped it up a notch with their security. To replace former Director of Security Manny Fernandez, the school hired a company with experience in some of the most dangerous places in the world.

For example, the new security director, Joshua Philipps, previously guarded the French and Finnish embassies in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Mr. Fernandez resigned Feb. 4 to accept another job.

“The administration had to decide between a firm and a single security director, and they chose the firm,” said Registrar and Director of Facilities, Business, and Institutional Advancement Mrs. Lili Einalhori. “The administration took a more hands-off approach by hiring a firm.”

Law Security and Investigations LLC now supplies four security guards with at least two working at any time. Walter Morales, who also worked under Mr. Fernandez, is now working for Law Security and Investigations LLC.

“I really like the school — this much different than I’m used to,” said Mr. Philipps.

In the past he served as director of school security at a Catholic school in Mexico. It had about the same number of students as Shalhevet, he said, but the security staff was much larger.

“It was the same thing, a private high school for wealthy Mexican business owners’ kids,” Mr. Philipps said.

Before that, he worked at the embassies of Finland and France in Afghanistan and Iraq, under a security contract company he declined to name. Before that he spent two years in the U.S. Army and eight in the Marines, Mr. Philipps said.

He returned from Afghanistan in January, and Charles Law – a friend of his – asked him to become director of security at Shalhevet.

“You use the same types of tools that you use in Afghanistan and Iraq, but it’s a completely different environment and situation,” said Mr. Philipps in an interview. “You look for people acting different. You look for people that stick out. Working in this area you see what kind of people are in the area, and if they stick out then maybe they don’t belong here.”

He said students had an important role to play.

“The students are a good reporting tool to use, too, because you guys walk around the school all day long,” he said. “If you guys see something change all of a sudden, then you can tell us about it. So, it’s important for the students to be vigilant too.”