BANGOR, Maine — The ‘now hiring’ sign on the side of the building from a few months ago has been taken down but the Bangor Police Department is still looking for new recruits to get the department up to full staff.
Out of the department's eight cadets and recent graduates from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, three are women.
Officer Andrea Gurecki is the department's most recent female graduate.
She’s hanging up her boxing gloves and trading them in for handcuffs.
“I'll be off and running by then,” said Gurecki, talking about when the next class graduates from the academy.
Gurecki has already lived three lives.
She has been a real estate developer, an amateur boxer, and an artist.
"You can't really box in Boston without having interaction with the police,” said Gurecki.
Now, she is the police, and instead of knocking out her opponents in the ring, she’s knocking out crime.
"I was an amateur boxer for about five or six years in which I found my passion that I wanted to be in law enforcement,” said Gurecki.
As a former amateur boxer and trainer out of South Boston, it was her love of the sport that inspired her to make a recent career change after seeing the Boston cops at her gym working with area youth.
"I got to see the interaction between juveniles, kids, trying to get them off the streets, trying to get them away from drugs, maybe they're from broken homes,” said Gurecki. “They don't have any other options. Boxing was a really huge outlet for them. Just to get a couple of kids off the street instead of going down and joining a gang. They would try to get them to come and join the boxing gym. I saw that. I was part of it. I would help these kids train and learn and I wanted to be a part of more than just teaching them to box."
Gurecki said she chose to work in Bangor because the department has everything that a big city has to offer in a smaller city.
At full staff, the Bangor Police Department has eighty-four officers. Gurecki brings the number of female officers in the department up to seven. Two additional women are coming Bangor's way fresh from the academy class which got under way Tuesday.
"The department's really picking up female applicants which is great and that just means that more females are more interested in becoming law enforcement officers,” added Gurecki.
We teach them "how to be vigilant and take care of themselves,” said Tyler Rusby, a five-year veteran of the force and Gurecki’s field training officer. "To get them rounded for every aspect of what they may face on patrol."
Patrol officers primarily respond to calls solo but Rusby said back-up is usually right around the corner.
"In Bangor we do have a lot of high stress calls so just getting in the mindset of always being vigilant, always looking and always checking, is just something that we have to do,” said Rusby.
Gurecki said she has her eyes set on a specialty within the department, investigating homicides, though she also admits community policing is what first got her interested in being a cop.
"Pop out of my cruiser and say hello to people,” said Gurecki of community policing. "I hope that people would see me walking through the door and would want to converse with me and would want to confide in me. I hope that they look to me like I'm going to help them."
While getting accustomed to her new geography, Gurecki hopes to meet as many people in the community as she can while stopping for coffee at one of the city's hot spots, like Bagel Central.
When not on patrol, Gurecki plans to continue to train and box out of a gym in downtown Bangor.
She is also hoping to set up her small sea glass art business and will be on the hunt for any Maine sea glass on the shore of Bar Harbor.