Dr. Casey Stewart PsyD ’08 knew he wanted to be involved with police psychology after taking an ethics class in Pacific University’s School of Professional Psychology.
“Casey was an impressive student,” said Dr. David Corey, the former Pacific professor who taught the course.
And when Stewart worked on his doctoral dissertation research in Corey’s office, in collaboration with the Portland Police Bureau, Corey’s impression was affirmed.
Today, Stewart and Corey work together in a private practice based in Lake Oswego, Ore., consulting with police and public safety agencies nationally.
The American Psychological Association considers public safety personnel a special population, requiring special education and training for psychologists. The ultimate goal, Stewart said, is to secure the safety and enhance the health and wellness of the whole community by assisting law enforcement organizations.
That means evaluating officers for fitness for duty, debriefing after critical incidents, managing mental health programs and profiling in criminal investigative analysis.
Born and raised in Oregon City, Stewart said his initial interest in juvenile justice, family services and psychology may have been a function of his “wayward youth.”
“I grew up in a place outside the city limits in a pretty poor and maybe diverse place, by Oregon standards, which really isn’t diverse at all,” Stewart said. “There were a lot of odds against people that grew up in the area that I did, so there were a lot of people that got in trouble, and there were probably a lot of social services that I saw.
“Or maybe it was just something that I was aware of, and I thought, ‘More could be done here.’”
Stewart majored in psychology as an undergraduate at the University of Oregon, working at various shelters and residential care facilities for children and families. After graduation, he took a job with St. Mary’s Home for Boys in Beaverton.
“St. Mary’s was so awesome and had such a great reputation, I thought this would be a good place for me to explore,” Stewart said. “There are all kinds of great opportunities that were open to people who were interested in taking advantage of them.”
He spent four years at St. Mary’s before coming to Pacific for its doctor of psychology in clinical psychology program. He completed a specialty track in forensic psychology, conducting supervised treatment and evaluation at a college campus, community mental health clinic, and prisons around Oregon.
“I chose to go work at the Oregon Department of Corrections, so I did a ton of assessment for the prison system here,” Stewart said. “I think I earned my chops so that I was a viable candidate for a really cool corrections internship.”
That internship, with the Illinois Department of Corrections, honed his assessment skills and gave him a deeper insight into police psychology.
“Prisons, they have kind of a captive audience, so you have a lot of opportunities,” Stewart said.
After he graduated from Pacific, Stewart took a job conducting psychological evaluations on employees with the New York Police Department. He spent three years in the city and came to love it, but returned to Oregon about six years ago to raise his family.
Today, Stewart and his former Pacific professor, Corey, practice in Corey-Stewart Consulting Psychologists. He consults with police and public safety agencies nationally, and recently started offering threat assessments for larger corporations.
“His rise in the specialty of policy and public safety psychology has been meteoric,” Corey said. “Our collaboration has been nothing short of rewarding for me personally and for our many public safety client agencies throughout the country.
Stewart has also taken on several professional leadership positions. He’s chair-elect for the American Psychological Association Division 18 Section for Policy and Public Safety, and president of the Academy of Policy and Public Safety Section.
The profession is one he hopes to help advance more broadly.
“I’m pretty sure I will be doing this for as long as I can,” he said.