Former top Capitol cop turns to pot security


SPRINGFIELD — The U.S. Senate’s former top cop is moving from guarding the U.S. Capitol to protecting pot.

Terry Gainer, who retired in May as one of the Senate’s longest-serving sergeants at arms, has been hired as a security consultant for a Chicago-based start-up seeking to launch medical marijuana-growing facilities in Illinois.

Green Thumb Industries, founded by Chicagoan Ben Kovler, is among a number of companies trying to position themselves as possible growers or distributors in the state’s budding medical pot business.

“GTI is wholly committed to ensuring our facilities are safe. Chief Gainer brings almost half a century of experience in law enforcement at the municipal, state and federal levels to our team,” Kovler said in a statement obtained Monday by the Quad-City Times Springfield Bureau.

Gainer, a former Chicago police detective, served as director of the Illinois State Police under former Gov. Jim Edgar.

In 1998, Gainer moved to Washington, D.C., where he served as a top administrator with the Metropolitan Police Department. In 2002, he was selected to be the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police.

After a stint in the private sector, Gainer returned to Capitol Hill, where he was sworn in as sergeant at arms in 2007.

“With Chief Gainer’s expertise and guidance, GTI facilities will be among the most secure in the nation,” Kovlar added.

Under a proposed set of rules governing medical marijuana in Illinois, growing operations must submit detailed security plans that include a system to monitor the number of plants being grown and a way to track plants being shipped to dispensaries.

The Illinois State Police will oversee a program in which inventories at growing facilities are performed on a weekly basis.

A final set of rules for the program is expected to be discussed by a panel of lawmakers Tuesday.

If approved, companies such as GTI will have the opportunity to apply to serve as one of the 22 growing facilities.

Like other newly formed companies, GTI is scouting possible locations and meeting with local officials in an effort to be chosen a grower in what could be a competitive field.

In central Illinois, for example, companies have opened talks about cultivation centers with officials in LeRoy, Delavan, Bloomington and Normal.

Gainer isn’t the only GTI consultant with political connections.

The company also has hired Mike McClain as its lobbyist in Springfield. McClain is a close ally of House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.

Link to story. By Kurt Erickson