Success story: The psychologist of crime

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LEWISTON — Last winter, Amy Blaisdell-Pechmanova, 28, was enrolled in the Citizen Police Academy and interning with Lewiston police.

Today, she’s the Lewiston Police Department’s new crime analyst.

She smiled when acknowledging that she’s often asked whether her job is like “CSI.”

No, she’s not out there with gloves and cameras, analyzing bodies and crime evidence, she said. Her expertise involves reading data and spotting trends for solutions to help prevent crime and injuries.

She keeps an eye on problem spots in the city and gives beat cops a daily rundown on the hot spots so they can start their patrols prepared.

“A lot of it is interpretation — how to see two numbers and question why is there such a stark difference and analyzing why,” Blaisdell-Pechmanova said. There could be multiple reasons why the data is different.

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The crime analyst is key for the department, Deputy Chief James Minkowsky said. “She gives us a chance to look at trends, does analysis on problem areas. Is it a particular apartment building or one apartment?”

Her work also monitors automobile crashes to find spots where there’s been an increase in accidents. The analysis could lead to police making safety recommendations to Lewiston Public Works.

Initially, Blaisdell-Pechmanova went to college thinking she wanted to be a psychologist. She grew up in Leeds, graduated from Leavitt Area High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

But she didn’t want to do research or clinical work. And police work was pulling at her.

“I’ve always been interested in true crime, reading anything I can get my hands on that has to do with any psychological connection with crime.”

She went back to school for a second degree — this time in criminology — which Blaisdell-Pechmanova is scheduled to complete in December. To supplement her learning, last winter she signed up for the internship and police academy.

At the academy, which is geared for civilians who want to know more about police work, officers who have already worked a shift may volunteer to come in and speak — everyone from the chief to detectives to patrol officers.

“It’s eye opening,” Blaisdell-Pechmanova said. “When most people think of police work, they think of patrol. There are so many different aspects. You get to learn about what different officers do.”

The 10-week class teaches law and offers lectures. There’s also a lot of hands-on learning, including shooting with paint guns, going on ride-alongs, meeting police dogs, seeing police equipment and learning what it feels like to be a police officer with simulations of real scenarios, such as stopping vehicles or confronting a suspect.

Blaisdell-Pechmanova said she liked how the academy taught civilians to better protect themselves from things like identify theft. At one class, an officer ticked off a list of things that women should not carry in their purses.

“I had most of them,” she said. “I learned the importance of keeping serial numbers to cellphones or laptops in case they’re stolen.”

As Blaisdell-Pechmanova was completing her internship and the academy, the crime analyst was leaving. She applied and got the job.

She competed with others who had more experience, Minkowsky said.

Blaisdell-Pechmanova was “motivated, very smart,” Minkowsky said. “She was doing stuff as an intern we hadn’t seen in the past. She understands statistics, analysis. It was almost a natural transition.”

“She’s doing a fantastic job,” Minkowsky said regarding the short time she’s been in the job. 

Blaisdell-Pechmanova said she’s lucky. She had taken some detours on her road to her career.

“I started college at 18 and got my first degree at 27. I’m getting another at 28. I did an internship, and in a matter of a few months later, I landed a job in my field of choice. I wake up in the morning excited to come to work.”

In her criminology classes, others ask her about what she’ll do after graduation.

She tells them that she’s already a crime analyst.

bwashuk@sunjournal.com

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