Exclusive Chuck Andrews interview: A life in security
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Security’s number one influencer and Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Chuck Andrews speaks exclusively with International Security Journal.
What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question that we all get asked as children or adolescents and yet life hardly ever seems to take the path that you expect.
For Charles “Chuck” Andrews however, the answer was simple. He grew up wanting to protect his community and that’s exactly what he has done during a lifetime of service in law enforcement and private security.
Andrews began as a law enforcement police explorer at the age of 13 and had logged over 4,000 hours of service by his 19th birthday. A tremendous and varied career notched up its latest success recently when Andrews was voted as the number one influencer in the global security market.
International Security Journal Editor, Matthew Bull caught up with Andrews to discuss his career, the lessons he’s learned and what it means to be a “Friend of Chuck”.
The fight against crime
When in conversation with Chuck Andrews, you instantly understand how passionate and committed he is to his vocation. He gets up at 5am every morning on his Texas ranch to start work and decades after first stepping away from law enforcement, Andrews is still a reserve lawman in his native state.
When asked to look back over his career, he states: “I have always remembered the definition of crime prevention, which is the anticipation, recognition and appraisal of a crime risk and the initiation of some type of action to remove said risk. I had a great career which focused a lot on crime prevention because that’s what made sense to me.”
Andrews started working in Texas law enforcement as a commissioned law enforcement official in 1983 and moved to Colorado law enforcement where he retired early in 1998 as Director of Crime Prevention. During his law enforcement career, though the recipient of numerous awards and achievements, most notably he was the youngest person to be named International Crime Prevention Officer of the Year, a lifetime achievement award recognising his work in crime prevention on an international scale.
Reflecting on his motivation to make the move from law enforcement into private security, he revealed: “I did everything you could do in law enforcement because I started so young. I think what I had to offer from the perspective of law enforcement in the community was better suited to private security.
“In law enforcement, what you do is important and often critical but can also be fairly generic. I found the private security industry much more interesting and as an entrepreneur, this sat well with me. It allowed my talents and experiences to really come to the fore.”
Come to the fore they did, Andrews’ experience includes, but is not limited to, serving as the law enforcement advisor for the FOX TV reality show COPS, working for the University of Colorado-Boulder Police Department (nine years) and rolling out crime tools in North America and Europe, as well as serving on the 1996 Olympic Security Team.
A relentless enthusiasm to push himself forward has been one of the secrets to Andrews’ success and he advises any young security professionals to do exactly the same.
“You’ve got to really put yourself out there in this industry. Any young professionals need to get out there, get networking and get engaged with other security professionals and organisations. Attend social events so you can build relationships which will help you do your job better and encourage your own growth in the industry. Using LinkedIn for professional social media and Facebook for the more personal side helps you create a balance of your own brand and image.”
Utilising the full potential of social media has certainly helped Andrews enhance his profile in recent years. Interestingly, he points out that it’s not all about LinkedIn: “Facebook is equally as important as LinkedIn because what people don’t understand is that relationships are about being human.
“People want to see the human side of you so you’ve got to share some level of “vulnerability”. If you want to build meaningful and lasting relationships it cannot just be a professional portfolio that people see, it has to be a balance of your personal life as well.”
Security’s clearing house
His natural talent for connecting with people encouraged Andrews to form his own professional network so that he could help to bring security professionals closer together. The Friends of Chuck website (www.friendsofchuck.com) was launched in 2014 along with social media pages and other campaign collateral.
Andrews continued: “Myself and a couple of friends discussed the concept of how you build long lasting relationships, which are key to everything in our industry. I have 40,000 business cards and those cards are reminders of how important relationships are. That is where the idea originated from and I built it around the informality of building relationships.
“There is no set structure, we only have a mantra that we follow; Dream big, Have fun, Get stuff done!”
He expanded further on the mantra: “Dream big for yourself, your company, your products and what you want to do in life. You have to know how to have fun as there’s no sense doing something if you are going to be miserable the whole time. Finally, you have got to make progress and be committed to it, that really resonates with people. Let’s get sh*t done!”
Friends of Chuck has proven staggeringly popular since its inception and now boasts over 100,000 members across 135 countries. Andrews revealed the secret to the network’s success: “The key benefit is you know Chuck and Chuck knows you and Chuck is the clearing house of the security industry.”
On the frontline
Over four decades of service in both law enforcement and private security as well as the roaring success of Friends of Chuck has catapulted Andrews to the forefront of the security industry with the Texan recently being voted security’s number one influencer and also picking up the Lifetime Achievement Award at the US Outstanding Security Performance Awards in 2019.
However, his focus has never shifted from helping those security professionals working on the frontline every day. He has mentored over 300 security colleagues and an estimated 500 young Law Enforcement professionals and security colleagues through their careers and his sterling work is not stopping there.
It was recently announced that Andrews had been appointed as Chief Strategic Officer for the International Foundation of Protection Officers (IFPO). The organisation’s mission statement is: “The International Foundation for Protection Officers is committed to the support and professional development of protection officers and supervisors. Through advocacy, promoting training standards and providing accessible training, education and certification opportunities, we seek to enhance their professional standing as well as increase and diversify the value of the vital services they provide.”
It is clearly a role this is close to Andrews’ heart as it provides more opportunities for him to offer support and assistance to security professionals. He said: “Security officers are on the frontline and therefore we need to give them the training, standards, certification and respect that they deserve. It is a thankless job and yet it is the most critical of jobs. The only group I know of that is looking to contribute to these changes is IFPO, they are leading the charge.”
Before he jumped back into another busy schedule of calls and video meetings, there was just time to ask Andrews what he has found most rewarding from his life in security. He answered without hesitation: “Personally getting to know so many people in law enforcement and security and finding out where their hearts and minds lie has been the most rewarding thing. From a professional perspective, I am the guy who is pushing the needle and being engaged in what happens across the industry, helping to make a better society, community and culture which is a fantastic feeling.”
There are hundreds, if not, thousands of security professionals around the world who owe a debt of gratitude to Chuck Andrews. His influence on the security industry has been vast and it is certainly not over yet. Perhaps we should all aim to one day call ourselves a Friend of Chuck.
This article was published in the November 2020 edition of International Security Journal. Pick up your FREE digital copy here