Monday, June 13, 2016

She Thought She Would Be a Teacher, But Joined the FBI

By Lucy M. Pritchett

One class changed Amy Wisotsky's career path. Photos: Melissa Donald 


Not every Turning Point leads from the classroom to crime. Crime-solving, that is.

Meet Amy Wisotsky, who thought she would become a teacher but ended up joining the FBI.

       


“I was the first in my family to go to college,” Amy says. “I grew up in Brooklyn, and it was just understood that I would go to Brooklyn College. At that time — this was in the ‘70s — a woman would choose to become a teacher or social worker. I decided to become a teacher. The college was pretty progressive, and I started student teaching in a variety of city schools my freshman year.”

One of her classes was on deviant behavior and was taught by the first high-ranking female in the New York City Department of Corrections. “She was an amazing professor and progressive in her thinking,” Amy says. “The class was phenomenal. The focus was on how deviant behavior affects criminal behavior and activity. I found the study of criminology fascinating. My professor was a good mentor, and with her encouragement, I changed majors and enrolled in the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan.”

 The Statue of Liberty poster is part of her collection of vintage New York posters.


Amy graduated in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice. She worked for the FBI in Manhattan in a clerical role her senior year, and once she got her degree, she became an FBI investigator in foreign counterintelligence in New York.

“I held that position for two to three years, and then I went through training at the FBI Academy on the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia. That course consisted of 14 weeks of class work, legal studies, firearms training, and physical training.

“Training at Quantico was life-changing. There were only three women out of a class of 29. We still keep in touch. Before the buzzwords that we use now — ‘team building, collaboration, innovation’ — we were doing all that then. We worked well together even though we came from all over the country. There were so many differences, but our main focus was helping each other. It was a great support team.”

Amy has kept all of the badges from police departments she has worked with previously. "The Polis badge was given to me by then Officer Monica Dahlstrom Lannes of the Swedish Polis." They visited each other in their countries of residence and have maintained contact for 39 years.  


Amy graduated from Quantico as an FBI special agent, and she and her government-issued Smith and Wesson were assigned to the office in Louisville. She was on the reactive crime squad and worked cases involving bank robberies, kidnapping, and racketeering.

“After two years in Louisville, I was reassigned to New York,” Amy says. “I didn’t want to go back there. I had to make a decision between the quality of life that I was enjoying in Louisville and leaving a career doing what I loved doing.”

Staying in Louisville won out, Amy says. “Louisville offered so many amenities. The cost of living was lower here, I had a beautiful apartment, and it was easy to get around not only in the city but out to other parts of the area as well.”

After Amy left the FBI, she worked in corporate security at LG&E for six years, then for nine years she worked in employee relations and labor management for the company.

“I went back to school and earned my master’s degree from the University of Louisville in training and development and eventually joined Brown-Forman as human resources manager,” she says. “I dealt with labor relations, training, and organizational development. I was there for 15 years and retired last June.”

Although she missed the FBI after she left — especially the camaraderie and the investigative research and analysis part of that job — Amy credits the skills she learned with the Bureau in helping her with every aspect of her career.

“I learned to gather the pertinent information needed to make decisions, whether they’re made on the fly or by waiting,” she says. “At the Bureau, I worked with people from so many backgrounds, ethnic groups, and value systems. I had to work within that framework to get information to come to a resolution or decision. Those skills served me well.”

In her free time, Amy enjoys collecting seltzer bottles. She uses this old seltzer crate to display
her antiques and flowers. 

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