Going beyond the badge: Why a veteran chose forensic psychology
For three decades, Gary Goines was the man behind the badge. He protected members of Congress and other dignitaries. He ran the U.S. Congress Speaker of the House security detail. And he worked as a supervisory special agent with the U.S. Capitol Police in Washington, D.C.
But as he rose through the ranks from rookie officer to working on a hostage rescue team, he began to question the purpose of a life’s work that, in one form or another, revolved around putting bad people behind bars.
“I started asking myself, ‘Why am I arresting people?’” explains Goines (M.A., Forensic Psychology ‘14), who sought a degree at The Chicago School as a way to marry his criminal justice background with an interest in studying the psychology of why offenders do the things they do.
“It was at The Chicago School that I started working on an active shooter study, which has since inspired me to write a book about active shooters and individual warning signs,” says Goines, who completed his degree through an online hybrid program while continuing to work for U.S. Capitol Police’s Containment Emergency Response Team (CERT). “The Chicago School allowed me to fine tune my own experience through a forensic psychology lens. At the same time, I was able to offer a different perspective from my career in law enforcement, being on the CERT, practicing active shooter situations, and being a part of dignitary protection.”
“I worked for years in law enforcement, being trained to protect and serve. Now I get a chance to protect and serve society by providing mental health education and awareness.”
Goines’ ongoing research on active shooters is a timely topic, one that he sees as an opportunity to give back—both by providing recommendations for mental health care to potential offenders and also helping to educate the public about how troubled individuals can get help before a situation goes too far.
“I worked for years in law enforcement, being trained to protect and serve,” he says. “Now I get a chance to protect and serve society by providing mental health education and awareness. My particular focus is about social risk factors of active shooters.”
Working with instructors at The Chicago School, Goines was able to study the warning signs that someone might turn anger into violence.
“We do live in a stigmatizing society,” he says. “If we could find ways for that individual to get help before a tragedy occurs and create some kind of social support system, we might be able to avoid incidents such as the Colorado movie theater shooting.”
Today, Goines is retired from the U.S. Capitol Police and works as a private consultant. He is often tapped to speak at panels about the psychology of active shooters, including a 2015 presentation to a local Homeland Security task force in the Boston area. He also works as an adjunct professor at The Chicago School, teaching a course in the Psychology of Law Enforcement.
It’s his way to paying it forward to the family who has helped him bring his long career in criminal justice to a higher level.
The book project also continues, as does Goines’ engagement with The Chicago School. In addition to speaking at a February 2016 webinar panel about active shooters and trauma, Goines currently serves as Chair of The Chicago School Alumni Council. It’s his way to paying it forward to the family who has helped him bring his long career in criminal justice to a higher level.
“For 30 years, the U.S. Capitol Police was my family. Now The Chicago School is my family, too,” explains Goines, who remains involved in The American Psychological Association, The American Society of Criminology, and The International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology.
“As an alumnus, my goal is to bring us together and help to assist other alumni after graduation,” he says. “I look forward to giving back to the institution that has given me so much.”