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At the time, Gainer thought he was done with Capitol Hill. He recalls being “awestruck” when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called a few months later to offer him the sergeant-at-arms post.
Gainer dialed then-Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Pickle and “almost sheepishly” informed him he’d been chosen.
“Get your feet off my desk,” he joked with his former boss.
Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine, with whom who Gainer works to help secure the Senate wing of the Capitol, called Gainer an “iconic police leader whose innovation and vision will be remembered throughout the law enforcement community as a whole.”
Gainer started his law enforcement career with the Chicago Police Department in 1968. It seems he was almost pre-destined for the badge — at least one member of the Gainer family has served on the city’s police force for 107 years. The tradition continues to this day with his second cousin.
Gainer’s government career began about two decades later, with a stint as Illinois deputy inspector general. In 1991, Republican Gov. Jim Edgar appointed him director of the Illinois State Police.
Gainer left the Land of Lincoln for Washington, D.C., in 1998 to become second in command of the Metropolitan Police Department. His 2002 transition to the Capitol Police put him in charge of nearly 2,000 sworn officers who were increasingly focused on terrorism threats, including anthrax and ricin.
“Terry has made the security of the U.S. Capitol his life’s work,” said Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., who works closely with Gainer in his capacity as ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee. “Keeping the Capitol complex safe for the millions of Americans who visit it in the course of a year, as well as for the thousands who work here, is a tremendous responsibility, and Terry has a record he can be proud of. I’ve enjoyed working with him, and wish him the best in whatever the future has in store for him.”
Today the decorated Vietnam War veteran and retired Naval Reserve captain has his sights set on the private sector. He told CQ Roll Call that he’s been talking to “a couple of great corporations and businesses where I intend to do some senior consulting that will be a nice new challenge.”
During his 2006 hiatus from the Hill, Gainer assumed the top spot at Blue Falcon Solutions, and worked for MPRI, an L-3 communications company where he was responsible for a multi-million dollar law enforcement program supporting Army and Marine operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Gainer said his next gig will likely have a heavy security component, and perhaps offer the chance to use some of his other skills managing IT, telecommunications and data-sharing.
He promises that he’s leaving the SAA in the capable hands of two of his underlings. The next Senate SAA will be Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms Drew Willison, whom Gainer says both staff and members are “very comfortable with.”
“I’m pretty excited about the next step,” he said, reflecting on his 47 years in public service. “[I] hope to contribute in a different way and see if I can build the Gainer coffers up.”