Sneakin’ Deacon: From Secret Service to Sacred Service recounts the adventures Greg Gitschier has experienced in his career. Greg served as a Louisville police officer for six years, then was recruited by the United States Secret Service, where he served 22 years. He protected presidents, celebrities, royalty, and tracked down counterfeiters. After retiring from the Secret Service, he worked as Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s bodyguard for five years. He now does security consulting and private protection work. His experience meeting and protecting Pope John Paul II on his 1999 visit to St. Louis led to his becoming a deacon in the Catholic Church. He serves as a chaplain for the Louisville Metro Police Department.
What’s a trait every man should develop?
Compassion. I have instilled in my children that it’s important to help people. It’s easy to turn a blind eye at times, but it is important to help if you can.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Don’t do anything you’re going to regret and that will catch up with you later. Don’t step over the line. You know when you’re doing something wrong. You’re responsible for your own actions.
What’s a skill every man should have?
Being able to protect himself, his family, and his friends. I always wanted to be a protector. I was on safety patrol in school. I worked at Stewart’s Department Store as a security guard. Then I was with the Louisville Police Department and the Secret Service.
I have been around some very important people in the world — kings, prime ministers, queens. But, when I met Pope John Paul II, I had a religious epiphany. He had an incredible way about him that impacted me, and I started getting more involved in church. Now I am a deacon at St. Patrick Catholic Church and also a local police chaplain. I’m on call in the 8th division but can go anywhere there has been a fatal accident, suicide, or murder. I am available to console the family or sometimes the police officers themselves.
What makes you angry?
I have very little patience for abuse of money and authority. People in power — business, religious, or political — who use money and authority to attack and discredit, if guilty, should be prosecuted and removed from office.
An accomplishment you’re proud of?
Being happily married for 25 years and having three awesome children ages 22,17, and 16. They have a good future ahead of them. They are on a good course. They all have compassion, and that makes me feel good.
A lesson you’ve learned the hard way?
Knowing when to speak out and when to shut up. It’s a hard lesson to learn…trying to figure out when is the right time to speak up to a spouse, boss, or even a stranger.
How is your life different from what you thought it would be?
I always thought I was going to be in law enforcement. My father was an FBI agent and I saw him come home at night wearing his fedora, with his handgun and handcuffs and FBI badge. I wanted to follow in his footsteps.
A trait you would like to improve in yourself?
I could be a little more organized.
What would you change about Louisville?
Nothing, and I would like for people here to appreciate what an awesome city we have. I’ve spent time in Los Angeles, Honolulu, San Francisco, Miami, Dallas, New York — all sorts of large cities — and the traffic, the cost of living, and the quality of life in those cities is nothing compared to what we have in Louisville.
Can’t get the knack of…
Golf. I live on a golf course and am a pretty athletic guy, and I’m amazed that I can’t hit the ball as hard as some 14-year-old can. That said, I do enjoy playing in golf scrambles for charity.
What motivates you now?
I do security consulting, hold active shooter drills, evaluate business security plans, and do vulnerability assessments. Right now, I’m teaching a protection class for 18-year-old girls who are going off to college. If they find themselves in a bad situation I want them to be able to protect themselves. I am also on the board of Kids Cancer Alliance, which offers camping experiences at no charge to children with cancer and their families.
By Lucy M. Pritchett | Illustration by Daniel Kisner