Our History and Our Vision
At Cooke and Associates, Inc. (CAI) we pride ourselves on a legacy and reputation built on many successful years of providing excellence in service and security. Founded in 2003, the business was launched by a retired law enforcement officer with the aim of offering a versatile range of security and investigative services to clients both large and small. We seamlessly delivered an array of services from workers’ compensation and insurance-related support to domestic cases, uniform armed security, and close protection.
After 15 successful years in business, CAI was sold to Harry Arruda, our current CEO. After the purchase, he sat down and assessed CAI’s operations and service offerings. With careful analysis and consultation of some of the industry’s top experts, he developed a long-term plan to streamlined operations and enhance the company’s core service offerings, all with a goal of focusing on and expanding protective and public safety services. As a business, CAI has built and refined its pillars of core strengths: Executive Protection and Residential Security serving high net wealth and high-profile clients as well as Public Safety Services serving local, state and Federal agencies.
As CAI continues to burnish its reputation as a trusted industry leader, it has simultaneously grown at an incredible rate, bringing on staff with a range of expertise and decades of experience. We serve scores of Fortunes 500 internationally known brands, multinational companies, and expanded our work in the public safety arena, including industry-leading POST-compliant background investigations.
“I couldn’t be any prouder with what has been built over these last three years by the men and women of CAI. The daily dedication of our staff is second to none. As our footprint grows on a global scale, we have become a recognized leader because of the high-quality services we provide, the professionalism of our staff, and the way we partner with our clients. After 30+ years in this industry, I’ve come to know that success is about partnering with your clients, providing the highest level of service, delivering on your word, and being honest.” – Harry Arruda, CEO
Since our reorganization in 2018, CAI has grown its background investigation market from about 3% of its business to about 35% and has become the most talked-about private POST Background service provider in California. In recent years, CAI expanded beyond the San Francisco Bay Area and Central Coast region to now include the entire State of California. We are currently looking to expand our services in 2022 to several other states.
Recognized as one of the first companies in the nation to partner with public safety agencies, CAI has extended its protective service offerings to a variety of agencies. In addition to public safety backgrounds, we provide a number of essential services such as critical site protection, disaster response, critical incident management, and in-custody services to police and fire departments throughout California and the nation.
Despite this triumphant growth, CAI is proud to maintain a boutique service offering at its core.
Indeed, this commitment truly shines in our Executive Protection service. This area of our business has flourished in recent years as we have met the increasing need for skilled EP agents with a wealth of experience, knowledge, and integrity.
Brian Brady, CAI’s Executive Director, has unparalleled experience in both the public and private sectors as a 35-year law enforcement veteran and the head of protective services at one of the country’s most recognized entertainment corporations. “Our staff has extensive experience in providing protection for corporate and high-profile clients at such important and world-class events as awards shows, All-Star Games, high profile product launches, and international events such as the Olympics, film festivals and inaugurals. Our team’s experience levels range from planning and designing security for these events to the actual delivery of protective services to the attending clients.”
Brian further reflected on CAI’s ability to provide unmatched EP services in a wide range of scenarios: “In addition, Cooke & Associates personnel have been providing security for high-profile clients and their families at their residences and places of employment. Our personnel has worked with elite, professional security organizations, such as the U. S. State Department, the U. S. Secret Service, the British Secret Service, the Mexican and Italian government, and a number of State Executive Protection Details at events and gatherings.”
In the last two years, CAI has expanded its footprint to confidently provide services on a global level. Our ethos, however, has remained centered around offering clients best-in-class service with a boutique feel and personal, tailored security programs. We pride ourselves on giving clients trusted, single points of contact, unlike large firms that notoriously pass clients from sales staff to operations personnel, with a different agent every day.
It’s an unfortunate but well-known industry trope that large security companies simply don’t provide the level of service that ultra-high-net-worth clients and major brands deserve. Unfortunately, with big security conglomerates, the client often comes out on the losing end—giving the security industry a black eye as a result. At CAI, we focus on offering the white glove, discreet security services that is being lost with today’s security providers. In addition, CAI is driven to change the perception of security and that perception of unprofessional, warm body, “whistle and flashlight” security.
We pride ourselves on strong leadership that keeps a finger on the pulse of operations while remaining attuned to macro trends and industry developments.
“I’ve been in the security industry for over 14 years. I worked for leaders and managers, and I think there’s a big difference. At CAI, there is actual leadership here, which in the culture of law enforcement is appreciated in the ranks. When you’ve got a leader, you want to work hard—not because the boss is telling you to, but because you naturally want to do the best job you possibly can. Harry Arruda, our CEO, has the ability to figure out what the client wants and then tailor the services to that client specifically. If there’s a problem, he is looking for solutions and is creative in finding them. That’s understood from the top down in the company and I appreciate that.” – Protective Services Officer B. Woodhouse
A key development that we’ve witnessed in recent years is the growing reliance on private security firms. For example, when multiple high-end stores in Northern California fell victim to criminals who assaulted patrons and ransacked retail stores, store management found it prudent to deploy private security to safeguard clients and property going forward. Many postulate this shift from public to private security is driven by the challenges facing police departments nationally.
As departments across the country face budget cuts, calls to “defund the police,” decreasing morale, and candidate shortages, they have seen unavoidable consequences in their effectiveness. When the City of Oakland faced a sharp increase in violence over the 4th of July weekend, Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong cited a $20 million budget cut when explaining his department’s response to the situation to the press.
Further, many departments, struggling to find qualified applicants, have in recent years lowered the bar for new police hires. According to agency insiders, recruiting high-caliber applicants has been their biggest challenge. Some department old hands have lamented the end of the “golden age” of policing, when professionalism, education, and dedication were the watchwords.
“It’s becoming harder and harder to find candidates and qualified applicants in law enforcement. I don’t think there’s an agency out there that’s fully staffed with the number of officers that they need. It’s getting worse.’ -Mark Ligouri, 30-year law enforcement veteran and CAI’s Director of Operations
As we have written about previously, private security has increasingly filled the gap left by police forces experiencing sharp staffing and budget cuts. Interestingly, as many seasoned police officers leave the force, many are transitioning into private security – bringing their knowledge, experience, and training along with them to greatly enhance the industry.
“There’s a lot of wisdom and experience among CAI staff— most have put in a full 30 years of law enforcement. So, when it comes to providing our services, everyone feels confident and is very well equipped to handle whatever they are assigned to. Everyone brings a lot to the table based on their individual experience and the career that they had before coming to work for Cooke and Associates.” – Protective Services Officer B. Woodhouse
More than ever, Cooke and Associates, Inc. is honored to meet the moment. Our team is poised to handle an array of security requirements and give our clients the peace of mind they need for success. We know that true security is priceless and ignoring risks comes at a cost.
To celebrate our almost two decades of unparalleled services, we have redesigned our website to better show not only what Cooke & Associates, Inc. can do, but where we’re going in the years to come.
Take a peek at www.cookepi.com and enjoy!