People You Know: Carly Conley, 16 years at LPD and counting

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LEWISTON — When Carly Conley was 21, she tried out for one of three open spots at the Lewiston Police Department with 60 other would-be recruits and didn’t make it.

Then Chief Bill Welch called a few weeks later.

One of the three finalists had abruptly dropped out of the police academy.

Did she still want in?

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It began what’s been, so far, a 16-year career. Last month, Conley was promoted to sergeant, becoming the LPD’s first-ever female supervisor, not that she thinks about that much.

“I just want to be a good police officer and that’s always how it’s been,” said Conley, 38.

Being that good officer has meant helping others and seeing their good.

“I’ve been working here for 16 years, there are some people that I’ve been dealing with for 16 years,” she said. “I’ve watched them grow up, and I’ve watched the struggles and the bad choices they’ve made and then the small good choices that they’ve made. You can’t control and change everything. You just have to hope that your interaction with people makes a difference.”

Conley grew up in Sabattus. Her father was a carpenter who built houses.

“That kind of work tends to be word of mouth and he happened to do some work for someone (at the LPD),” she said. “He ended up doing a lot of work for several former officers here.”

He’d sometimes take her to job sites. She was 8 or 9 when her father built a house for now-retired Det. Ron Dumont.

“I remember being very impressed by him as an individual, just a great guy, great personality,” Conley said. “I remember him giving my brother a set of handcuffs, typical stuff you’d do with young kids. It didn’t start at that point, ‘Oh, I want to be a police officer,’ but I remember when I started being interested in it, it brought me back to this particular police department and the positive experience I had with some of the officers here.”

She took a year off after high school, which helped cement an interest in being an officer, and pursued an associates degree in law enforcement at Southern Maine Community College. She’d planned to transfer to earn a bachelors’ degree when the three openings at LPD came up.

She was disappointed, initially, when she didn’t make that first cut.

“I thought, you know what, maybe it’s not the right timing, there’s other plans for me,” Conley said. “I’ll start off with college in January, go from there.”

Hearing from Welch later was a great surprise.

Since starting on the third shift on patrol, Conley’s worked on the selective enforcement team, as domestic violence coordinator and as a detective in the criminal investigation division pursing adult felonies.

Homicides have been some of the most rewarding cases.

“Obviously, we wish we wouldn’t be at that point of a homicide, but there have been a couple we’ve been involved in that the individuals responsible were found guilty and convicted,” Conley said. “I feel like that, while it doesn’t bring back the person for the family, it can hopefully bring some closure. And we did our part, what was in our control, we delivered.”

With all they see, it’s been a deliberate choice to keep a positive attitude.

“We definitely help society, but unfortunately sometimes it’s very indirect,” she said. “Obviously, in this line of work, you become a realist, to say the least. You have to consciously choose not to be a cynic.”

The time was right in her career and life to become a sergeant and Conley said she’s excited for the challenge. She works nights with seven to eight people under her during a shift.

“All I really, truly care about is I’m going to be an effective supervisor,” she said. “My biggest goal here has been I’ve wanted to be versatile. I’ve wanted to be as knowledgeable in as many facets of our job as I could. (It’s) going to allow me to kind of guide some of these younger guys and give them what I’ve learned, basically.”

kskelton@sunjournal.com

Lewiston Police Department’s Carly Conley is the first-ever female supervisor at the department. Last month, she was promoted to sergeant, overseeing the overnight shift of the patrol division.

Lewiston Police Department’s Carly Conley is the first-ever female supervisor at the department. Last month, she was promoted to sergeant, overseeing the overnight shift of the patrol division.

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