Memphis kid now distinguished U.S. Secret Service Deputy Director

Posted Jan 4, 2011 by Kay Mathews
Washington, DC - Keith Prewitt solved crime on the streets of Memphis, protected presidents, oversaw threat assessments, rose in the ranks of the US Secret Service to his current position as Deputy Director, and is the “Federal Player of the Week".
Flanked by Secret Service agents  President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush travel the inau...
Flanked by Secret Service agents, President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush travel the inaugural parade route in an armored limousine headed toward the White House. Washington, D.C. (Jan. 20, 2005)
U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 2nd Class Mark O'Donald
The Partnership for Public Service features a “Federal Player of the Week” and, in collaboration with the Washington Post, profiles that esteemed public servant in the newspaper.
This week’s Federal Player is Keith L. Prewitt. As Prewitt, 54, told the PPS, his public service calling began in “his junior high school days in the tumultuous late 1960s when a Memphis police officer reached out to him and his neighborhood friends, counseled them to obey the city curfew, stay safe and keep out of trouble.”
Prewitt said, "People in my neighborhood didn't trust police officers, but that experience really changed my perspective. He took the time to talk to us like we were people he cared about. It may sound hokey, but that was in many ways an epiphany, telling me I needed to get into public service, and here I am."
Where is Prewitt now? He is the second in command of the U.S. Secret Service. According to the Secret Service, Prewitt was appointed to his current position in 2008 and “is a 25-year veteran of the Secret Service.” Prewitt's official photograph is available here.
Originally created in 1865 as an agency dedicated to suppressing counterfeit currency, the responsibilities of the U.S. Secret Service have broadened considerably through the years.
“Today,” according to the Secret Service, “the agency is mandated by Congress to carry out dual missions: protection of national and visiting foreign leaders, and criminal investigations.”
The protective mission of the Secret Service is more commonly known and includes protecting the president, and vice-president and their families. The investigative mission includes combating the crimes of computer and telecommunications fraud, financial institution fraud, money laundering, and their original mission of investigating the counterfeiting of U.S. currency.
After graduating from Memphis State University and serving in the Memphis Police Department, Prewitt was recruited by the Secret Service in 1983. Prewitt’s assignment and positions held include Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Office, Special Agent in Charge of the Major Events Division, Deputy Assistant Director of the Office of Protective Operations, Assistant Director for the Office of Human Resources and Training, and Assistant Director of the Office of Protective Research.
As Deputy Director, the Secret Service states that “Mr. Prewitt executes oversight of the agency's daily operations, including its more than 6,600 personnel and $1.4 billion budget. He also develops and implements policy as it relates to the agency's investigative and protective mission.”
Colleagues hold Prewitt in high esteem, including Peter Metzger, a former Marine who worked at the White House during the Reagan administration when Prewitt was on the vice presidential protective detail. Metzger told PPS, "The stakes are often very high, but he has a calm demeanor. He assimilates information, delegates very well and holds people accountable. Those who work with him say he is demanding, but fair."
The Partnership for Public Service/Washington Post article notes that Prewitt said he “tries to view every single day as a ‘training day.’ When a leader thinks he knows it all, that's the day things take a bad turn. It is important to keep grounded and stay focused."
This multiple award-winning public servant, including Meritorious Presidential Rank Award, Federal Law Enforcement Accreditation Board Teamwork and Leadership Award, and Department of Homeland Security Secretary's Award for Outstanding Achievement in Diversity Management, is the Federal Player of the Week.