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Norwich - The city's police department continued to bolster its ranks on Monday with the hiring of four new officers who were introduced during a badge pinning ceremony at police headquarters.
Two of the new officers are military veterans whose salary is paid in part through a $500,000 U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services grant awarded to the department last summer.
Joseph Maldonado, 42, of Voluntown, served 22 years in the U.S. Navy and Naval Reserve, including as a submariner and Military Police Officer at the submarine base in Groton. Originally from Bronx, N.Y., Maldonado grew up in Puerto Rico and speaks Spanish.
Ryan Landry, 26, of Uncasville served four years with the U.S. Army including a tour in Afghanistan with the 2nd Calvary Regiment. He is also a member of the National Guard's 103rd in Rhode Island. A graduate of Norwich Free Academy, Landry said becoming a police officer was always something he wanted to do.
"I grew up in the area and it seemed a good fit to work in an area I've called home all my life," he said.
Also hired was Heather Buonanni, 23, of Deep River and Zachary Barber, 22, of Griswold.
Buonanni earned a criminal justice degree from the University of New Haven.
Barber said he's had his sights set on a job as police officer since junior high school. He has taken criminal justice courses at Three Rivers Community College and also worked for a summer with the Westerly Police Department.
Norwich Police Chief Louis J. Fusaro said he had high expectations for the group which has already undergone an extensive series of background checks and a barrage of testing. He told the group of friends and family gathered Monday they had helped get the new officers to this point, acting as good role models and steering them away from trouble.
The addition of the four officers brings the department to a total of 90 sworn officers of an authorized strength of 98. Three officers are expected to graduate from the police academy later this year.
The four officers sworn in Monday will spend 22 weeks at the police academy before returning to the department to start 12 weeks of field training .