The Waterbury Police Department is in need of officers, and Thursday evening they welcomed 17 new recruits to join the force. The new officers graduated from the Waterbury Police Academy.
Waterbury Police Chief Vernon Riddick Jr. said the department has been stretched thin.
“This is unprecedented numbers for us in the modern era. We have not been this low,” he said.
There are now 276 officers that round out the department with a goal of 300 in mind, but even that’s not the size they’re used to.
“A lot of officers have left for either greener pastures, better pay, better benefits, so the last couple of years, two
years or so, have been very difficult for us,” Chief Riddick said.
Of the 17 graduating officers, seven have family members that are or were police officers.
For Joseph Hamel it was a dream come true to follow in the footsteps of family.
“Based on my father and grandfather, they were a huge influence growing up, so that’s a huge reason I came,” Hamel said.
His father, Waterbury Police Officer Jeffrey Hamel, said it’s a proud moment to watch his son graduate from the academy.
“I have a lot of confidence in him that he’s doing the right thing and he’s doing very well,” he said.
The new officers won’t actually hit the streets for another 10 weeks because of additional field training.
Two other officers, one from Wallingford and another from Ansonia, also graduated from the academy and will join those departments.