Another female police officer breaks barriers in The County

1 month ago

The Presque Isle Police Department is making history while also doubling its ability to handle crisis and abuse cases.

With a promotion on Jan. 16, Officer Rachel Fisher has become the department’s newest detective — and its first-ever female in the role. 

It’s the latest milestone reached by women in Aroostook County law enforcement this month. Presque Isle’s first female police chief, Laurie Kelly, retired on Jan. 5 after 38 years with the department, four of those as chief. And just last week, 17-year law enforcement veteran Erica Pelletier became chief deputy at the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office, the first female in the position.

Fisher served in the U.S. Army, becoming a military police officer in 2012. She joined the Presque Isle Police Department in 2021. For her, her promotion speaks volumes about the roles women can and should play in law enforcement.

“Females bring a different and unique perspective,” she said. “I have found that victims of domestic violence or sexual assault prefer to talk to a woman, but sometimes can’t because there are not enough women in law enforcement.”

Presque Isle is lucky to have three females on the force right now, because it gives people the chance to speak with someone they may feel more comfortable with, she said.

That’s just what a national nonprofit group is hoping for. Right now women fill only about 12 percent of law enforcement roles, according to 30X30, which wants to increase that number to 30 percent by 2030. Brunswick’s police department was Maine’s first force to sign on to that goal.

In Presque Isle, child abuse and sexual assault cases inspired Fisher to become a detective, because she wanted to help bring closure to the families affected by those crimes, she said.

She has completed specialized training in sexual assault, death and homicide, and search warrant procedures, she said, along with instruction in advanced investigative interviewing. Later this year she wants to complete a course on interviewing children. 

Fisher will work directly with Presque Isle’s current Detective Tyler Seeley.

“[He] has been handling the workload of really three detectives all by himself for the past two years,” she said. “I am fortunate to be able to have him as a mentor and looking forward to helping him balance the workload.”

Fisher was chosen for the role because of her abilities and extensive training, said Deputy Chief Chris Hayes, who is also interim police chief since Kelly’s retirement.  

“The fact that Rachel is a woman was not a consideration for promotion, however it is exciting that in this role she may serve as a role model to young women who are interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement,” Hayes said.

Presque Isle’s detective call volume is up 40 percent from eight years ago, when the force had two detectives, Hayes said. 

Though the department needed both a second detective and a fifth dispatcher, there wasn’t the budget for both positions. They chose to fill the detective position first because Seeley was drowning in cases, Hayes said.

Seeley will provide on-the-job training, and when her training is completed, Fisher will be able to take half the caseload of child and adult abuse cases and serious property crimes, the deputy chief said.

He believes Fisher’s skills and drive will serve the department well.

“I believe Rachel encompasses a rare talent of excellence and enthusiasm for law enforcement, and I look forward to seeing the emergence of a blossoming career,” he said.

Fisher hopes her new role will enable her to make a positive impact on the community. 

Her husband is a Fort Fairfield police officer, and the two have a daughter. Fisher enjoys spending time with her family, and together they enjoy getting outdoors, including snowmobiling in the winter and ATV riding in the summer.