March 22, 2011

U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms to visit SIUC

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Terrance W. Gainer, the Sergeant at Arms for the United States Senate, will discuss issues of balancing security with freedom of movement for elected officials next week at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Gainer, the former director with the Illinois State Police and police chief with the U.S. Capitol Police, will speak at 7 p.m., Monday, March 28, in the Student Center Auditorium. Admission is free, and the public is welcome.

The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute is sponsoring Gainer’s visit. Gainer will also meet with students and with regional law enforcement officers during his visit, and participate in a luncheon with students and faculty in the University’s criminal justice, criminology, public administration and political science programs.

Gainer was sworn in as the 38th U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms in January 2007 after his unanimous election by Senators in the 110th Congress, according to his biography on the U.S. Senate website. Gainer previously was chief of the United States Capitol Police, and director of the Illinois State Police from March 1991 to May 1998, when he moved to Washington, D.C. to become executive assistant chief of the Metropolitan Police Department.

Gainer earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from St. Benedict’s College in Atchison Kansas, and a master’s degree in management of public service from DePaul University. He earned his law degree from the DePaul University College of Law. A decorated veteran, Gainer served as an adviser in Vietnam, retiring as a Captain in the U.S. Navy Reserve in 2000.

Gainer’s law enforcement career spans nearly five decades, beginning in 1968 as a police officer with the Chicago Police Department, and he later became the chief legal officer for the Chicago Police Department, serving from 1981 to 1984. Gainer became Illinois’ Deputy Inspector General in 1987, and later deputy director of the Illinois State Police. Gainer also was special assistant to the Secretary and Director for Drug Enforcement and Compliance with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“As the chief law enforcement and executive officer of the U.S. Senate, Terry Gainer plays a crucial role to assuring our democracy works,” said Matt Baughman, Institute associate director. “He is highly regarded in Washington, D.C., and we are delighted to bring him back home to Illinois for a visit.”

Baughman said Gainer’s discussion will address a number of issues, including “considerations of balancing freedoms and security our nation now faces for public officials and their constituents following the Tucson shootings earlier this year.”

A Jan. 8, shooting rampage seriously injured U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, left six dead and another 12 people injured. In the days following the attack several Congressmen suggested the need to carry firearms, a proposal Gainer does not believe is a good idea.

“I think as time has passed there has been a more thoughtful approach,” said Gainer, who said he is sensitive to Second Amendment and right-to-carry issues.

Maintaining security in the U.S. Capitol and Senate office buildings while keeping the facilities accessible for citizens is a delicate balance and a continuing challenge, he said.

Gainer has nearly 1,000 employees that manage all facets of U.S. Senate operations. The job also allows Gainer to be involved in a variety of law enforcement initiatives on the national and international level, he said. The job offers a bit of variety, ranging from law enforcement and protection-related issues to protocol duties, including greeting officials and escorting visiting dignitaries into the Senate chambers.

Time spent on the Senate floor with senators is valuable and enlightening, he said.

“You learn more about how human our elected officials are even when they try to struggle through these financial issues,” Gainer said. “They have families, children and grandchildren, and many of the same issues that a lot of us do.”

Baughman has known Gainer for more than 20 years. In addition to attending the same church in Springfield, Baughman was with the Illinois State Police while an intern in Gov. Jim Edgar’s office, and later worked in Edgar’s press office while Gainer was state police director.

For more information on this program, contact the Institute at 618/453-4009, or visit