Secret ServiceBy NIKKI ROWELL,
Northsider’s career takes him to the white house and Los Angeles protecting president Reagan
Retired Secret Service Agent Larry Rowlett is using his expertise from his many years in law enforcement and service from the United States Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security to provide protective training to schools and businesses.
Growing up in Dallas, Rowlett was the son of a railroad worker and cosmetics saleswoman. He received a scholarship to play football at Texas A&M University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree with the plan of working in the medical field.
Rowlett was accepted into dental school, but he was forced to withdraw from the program after one week when he realized he could not afford to continue.
However, that helped Rowlett discover his career path.
He began working for a police department in Arlington, Texas, in 1975. After four years, he was in the detective division.
“We had a missing persons report on a person who was a diamond dealer,” he said. “To make a long story short, the diamond dealer was murdered by two guys that stole his diamonds and had them hidden.”
“One thing led to another, and the Secret Service agent in the area asked if I would come to work for the secret service,” he said.
Rowlett began by working with the Secret Service in Dallas.
“From there I went to the counter-assault team in Washington, to the White House when President and Mrs. (Ronald) Reagan were in the White House,” he said. “My shift was there the day President Reagan was shot. I was not there.”
He later left Washington D.C. to work in the counterfeit and fugitive squad in Los Angeles. Later, he went back to Washington D.C. as the assistant director of training.
Leaving that position is what brought him to Jackson, which is where he served as the special agent in charge of the Secret Service office.
“Mrs. Reagan called me here when I was at the office and asked if I would come back out to L.A. and head up their detail because President Reagan’s dementia was getting worse,” he said. “So, I went back to L.A. in charge of the division out there. Then, September 11 happened.”
After September 11, Rowlett said he returned to Washington for a third time and joined eight others who were the original group that began TSA.
Rowlett now has his own security consulting company and lives in Madison.
“I wouldn’t change my 45 years of the time that I spent doing this,” he said.
However, he said it’s not the glamorous job as it is portrayed on television.
“It’s one of those things, it sounds really glamorous, but in reality, it’s three eight-hour shifts and living outside of Washington and commuting for over an hour every day,” he said. “Then, you had to meet the van to take you to the White House, so that added time.”
“It seems glamorous, but you’re standing around the White House most of the time on marble floors, your feet hurt, your back hurts. You’ve got guns and radios and a vest on,” he added.
However, he was able to visit all 50 states and 35 foreign countries.
“You know, getting to visit all 50 states and 35 foreign countries, standing next to kings and emperors and presidents of foreign countries, all of that was good,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade it, but it is not nearly what people seem to think it is.”
He spent time traveling all across Africa with former Vice President George H.W. Bush.
“I spent most of the holidays in Santa Barbara with the Reagans at the ranch,” he said, recalling some of the highlights of his career. “There was the U.N. every year, where we would spend a month in New York each year. The training was good. The experiences were good.”
As a Secret Service agent, your job is to protect the President of the United States, which means doing whatever is necessary.
“It’s kind of a feeling of it’s what you signed up to do,” he said. “Your job isn’t to, as they say, jump in front of a bullet. Your job is to protect that person from danger. If that means turning that person and getting them out of the way of somebody that’s shooting at them and put yourself in the way, then that’s what you have to do, and you understand that.”
“Just like you understand that part of your job is going to be to move seven or eight times or to work late hours,” he added.
His assignments with Homeland Security included Federal Security Director for eight commercial airports in the State of Mississippi and Branch Chief of Contingency Preparedness Program in Washington, D.C.
Now that he is retired from the Secret Service, he is using the training and experiences from over the years to run his own security consulting company. He also serves as the security director for both St. Andrews campuses.
His company does security consulting and training for all 167 of the Department of Defense schools. They also do security training for Baptist Hospital, several area private schools and businesses.
Rowlett said dangerous behavior detection is key in preventing disasters from happening. He offers training so that others may be able to pick up on these behaviors for prevention.
He also covers how to respond in the event that an active threat is present.
For more information about his security consulting, visit presidentialsecurityservices.com.