New London police hire 4, promote 3

Newly sworn in Police Sergeant Brian Laurie puts his son Brayden, 4, down after giving him a hug after Laurie's wife Heather pinned on his Sergeant's badge during a promotion and swearing in ceremony for the New London Police Department at New London City Hall Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. Laurie's son Kyler, 6, (not in photo) witnessed the promotion of his father. (Tim Cook/The Day)

New London — In what some police and city officials have called a reinvigoration of the police department, Chief Margaret Ackley on Wednesday announced three promotions and the hiring of four new recruits.

The four new hires, who have yet to start classes at the state police academy, will bring the department just 10 officers short of the 80-officer mandate set by the City Council, said City Councilor Erica Richardson, chairwoman of the Public Safety Committee.

The mandate was put in place because of a drop in manpower at the department over the past four years, which in turn has led to low morale and increased overtime.

“This is positive momentum. I think the perception of the department has improved. Credit the chief and deputy chief with getting the word out,” Richardson said.

Richardson said new hires are possible in this fiscal year if Ackley finds available funds in her budget.

Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio, who was out sick on Wednesday, said he thought it was “wonderful” Ackley had found the funding to make the hires possible.

“I’m hopeful that her assessment of the funding for these positions is accurate,” Finizio said. “And as long as this can be done within the budget then I’m very pleased the ranks are increasing and we are approaching patrol strength levels that we ideally need to effectively operate the police department.”

Finizio said he supports more hires but leaves determination of funding for those positions with Ackley.

Ackley has a pending lawsuit against Finizio for a breach of contract, and Finizio placed Ackley on 10 months of paid administrative leave during an investigation into alleged wrongdoings.

An independent investigation cleared Ackley of any misdeeds, and she returned to duty in May.

Since that time, Ackley has instituted downtown foot patrols and indicated she plans to add two dogs to the departments K9 unit.

The four recruits come on the heels of the hiring of two certified officers last week and a total of 12 since recruitment started last year.

Lucas Delgrosso of Ledyard, Caitlyn Donahue of Buffalo, N.Y., and Zachariah Kelley of New London will start their six months of training at the state police academy on Friday.

Marco Zandri of Ridgefield will start in a class that starts in December unless another slot opens in this month’s class.

Delgrosso is a 2009 Ledyard High School graduate who earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Three Rivers Community College in Norwich.

Donahue earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from SUNY Buffalo.

Kelley is a 2010 East Lyme High School graduate who served in the U.S. Marine Corp for four years before his honorable discharge in 2014.

Zandri earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of New Haven.

Ackley filled the vacant captain’s position by promoting former lieutenant and 20-year police veteran Lawrence J. Keating Jr., known among his peers as “L.J."

Ackley said Keating has a strong and varied background that has included community policing initiatives and work with youth. 

Keating will serve as the patrol division commander and said it was a good time to be a captain because of the boost in patrol strength.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

Promoted to the rank of sergeant were officers Charles Flynn and Brian Laurie.

Flynn is a 21-year veteran officer who formerly worked for the Old Lyme Police Department, is a longtime executive board member of the local police union and former vice president of AFSCME Council 15, Connecticut Council of Police. He is currently a motorcycle officer.

A narcotics officer, Laurie has worked with the department for 12 years and is a former Willimantic police officer.

Because of his experience, Laurie serves as the department’s liaison to a host of other agencies that include the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

Ackley said he has been involved in more narcotics-related cases than anyone in the history of the department.

g.smith@theday.com

Twitter: @SmittyDay

New recruits for the New London Police Department, from left, Lucas Delgrosso, Caitlyn Donahue, Zach Kelley, and Marco Zandri, watch on as New London Police Chief Margaret Ackley presides over a promotion and swearing in ceremony for members of the New London Police Department at New London City Hall Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. The four new recruits were sworn in as part of the ceremony.  (Tim Cook/The Day)
New recruits for the New London Police Department, from left, Lucas Delgrosso, Caitlyn Donahue, Zach Kelley, and Marco Zandri, watch on as New London Police Chief Margaret Ackley presides over a promotion and swearing in ceremony for members of the New London Police Department at New London City Hall Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. The four new recruits were sworn in as part of the ceremony. (Tim Cook/The Day)

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