New London swears in two new officers

New London Police Chief Margaret Ackley, right, adjusts the badge of  newly sworn in patrol officer Joseph Kondash, after a ceremony in the Council Chamber of City Hall, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015. Ryan Soccio, center background, a native of Cranston, R.I., was also sworn in. (Tim Martin/The Day)
New London Police Chief Margaret Ackley, right, adjusts the badge of newly sworn in patrol officer Joseph Kondash, after a ceremony in the Council Chamber of City Hall, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015. Ryan Soccio, center background, a native of Cranston, R.I., was also sworn in. (Tim Martin/The Day)

New London — City police welcomed two certified officers into their ranks on Tuesday, part of a group of at least six new officers expected to be hired in the coming weeks.

Ryan Soccio, 26, a native of Cranston, R.I., and Joseph Kondash II, 34, of Montville raised their right hands to be sworn in by City Clerk Jonathan Ayala during a brief ceremony at City Hall.

The event was attended by friends, family and police department supervisors.

Kondash is a nearly 5-year veteran of the Montville police department who was also a Montville firefighter for 10 years. He was named police officer of the year in 2013.

Married with two young daughters, Kondash said he looked forward to a busier beat in the city and felt the move was a step up in his career.

Police Chief Margaret Ackley said, “You know a person’s heart is in public safety” when he or she is a member of both a town’s fire and police departments.

“You have a stellar reputation, and we’re happy to have you on our team,” Ackley said.

Soccio formerly worked as an officer at George Mason University in Virginia and most recently at the University of Connecticut.

His stepfather, William Merandi, recently retired from the Providence Police Department, and his mother, Cindy Soccio, is a longtime criminal prosecutor.

Noting that Soccio earned a bachelor’s degree in politics from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., Ackley joked, “He should fit in perfectly here in New London.”

Both Soccio and Kondash worked as training officers in their respective departments.

Training Sgt. Matt Galante said the hiring of certified officers adds a near instant boost to the manpower at the department.

The new officers will have to undergo field training to learn the streets of New London along with local policies and procedures, but they will not have to spend six months at the police academy.

“We have two experienced, fully trained officers ready to go on the streets after field training,” Galante said. “We’re happy to have them.”

Capt. Brian Wright said both officers passed the same battery of tests a new recruit would — written, oral, psychological and medical, along with extensive background checks.

The city has hired eight police officers since a recruitment drive started late last year. Two of those hires are still at the police academy and two others graduated last week, according to Deputy Police Chief Peter Reichard.

Four new recruits are expected to be sworn in next week during a ceremony that also will include several promotions. 

Lt. Larry Keating Jr. will be promoted to the rank of captain and officers Charles Flynn and Brian Laurie will be promoted to sergeant.

Reichard said with an overall drop in the number of applicants nationwide, the department was fortunate to get four from the last crop of recruits to pass a test through the Law Enforcement Council of Connecticut.

The city has two seats reserved at the police academy class starting in October and two in the following class.

With any luck, Reichard said, the department could get up to a mandated 80 officers by next year. The department currently has fewer than 70 officers, he said.

Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio was not at Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony because of a death in his family, according to Chief Administrative Officer Laura Natusch.

g.smith@theday.com

Twitter: @SmittyDay

Sgt. Matt Galante, Jr. right, of the New London Police Dept. assists two new patrol officers Ryan Soccio, left,  and Joseph Kondash, fill out employment paper work, prior to entering City Hall for the two new officers to officially be sworn in, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015. (Tim Martin/The Day)
Sgt. Matt Galante, Jr. right, of the New London Police Dept. assists two new patrol officers Ryan Soccio, left, and Joseph Kondash, fill out employment paper work, prior to entering City Hall for the two new officers to officially be sworn in, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015. (Tim Martin/The Day)

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