Published January 26. 2012 4:00AM
Norwich - Five new police recruits were sworn in Wednesday at city police headquarters, bringing the Norwich Police Department up to an 85-person force.
It's the latest influx of new officers since the department welcomed two former New London officers on Monday.
Joel T. Ethier of Columbia, Christopher A. Hawrylik of North Stonington, and Dennis M. Bialowas, Zachary D. Desmond and Anthony V. Marceau, all of Norwich, will head to the state police academy in Meriden Friday.
Peter M. Karasuk of Hopkinton, R.I., and F. Steven Callender of Ledyard were hired Monday after each spending two years in the New London Police Department. Both have already completed the police academy, Norwich Chief Louis J. Fusaro Sr. said.
He said the additions come as the department shifts its focus to increasing community policing. Before this week's hires, the department had 79 members, Fusaro said, the lowest number in a decade.
But, with the support of the mayor and City Council, Fusaro said, the department is well on its way to fulfilling a five-year strategic staffing plan.
"Over the last decade, our staffing went down 13 percent and our population went up 12 percent," Fusaro said. "This is a start."
One of the new officers is a familiar face: Zachary Desmond, 27, is the son of dispatcher Beth Desmond, a nine-year department veteran.
Zachary Desmond said his three tours overseas - in Iraq, Afghanistan and Djibouti - as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps have prepared him for his position on the Norwich force. His mom said she is just happy to have him back home - and to know where he is most of the time.
"After my time in the Marines, I thought I'd fit in quite nice here," the 2002 Norwich Free Academy graduate said as other officers came up to congratulate him. "These are like my big brothers. I pretty much grew up with these guys."