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New London Police Department hires three new recruits

New London – Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio and Acting Police Chief Peter Reichard on Thursday welcomed three new police recruits, the first new hires in years and part of what is expected to be a continuing effort to meet a City Council mandate to increase the size of the force to 80 officers.

Justin Lawrie, 26, of Westbrook, Brendan Benway, 27, of Uncasville and Justin Beers, 23, of Groton were sworn in during a brief ceremony at City Hall.

“Today is a very significant day for the New London Police Department because after several years of tough budget constraints and the loss of many good officers during that time, we are now finally recruiting new officers ... and moving to restaff our ranks, which we will continue to do,” Finizio said. “We will make sure the New London Police Department has the resources to accomplish its mission.”

Reichard, who was hired in 2012 and was the last uniformed officer hired by the city, said the new hires are a welcome start in a rebuilding process at the department. He said the recruitment process will continue not only to boost staffing but also to fill vacancies that will be left by future retirements or departures.

The department now has about 67 sworn officers, down by 30 officers from when Finizio took office in 2011.

Reichard on Thursday announced the impending retirement of Capt. Steven Crowley, who has served more than 34 years at the department and currently is the commander of the investigative services division. He is expected to work his last day sometime this month.

Finizio said three years ago, during a restructuring in leadership positions at the department, Crowley was one of the few members of the senior staff who stayed on.

“Without his steady guidance, we would not have come through it as well as we did,” Finizio said.

Reichard said the city will re-establish a recruitment drive with sights set on certified officers interested in a transfer to New London. The city has so far been unsuccessful in attracting any.

Finizio said the new recruits, under a proposed contract approved by the local police union, have committed to working in New London for at least three years. The city in the past few years has been frustrated by newer officers leaving for other jobs after the city paid for their training.

The three new recruits are slated to begin six months of training at the Connecticut Police Academy today. Following graduation in March, they will complete between 12 and 16 weeks of field training before becoming certified police officers.

Lawrie is the son of a longtime Clinton police officer. He earned a master’s degree in international relations from Central Connecticut State University and held an internship with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Brandon is a former school teacher who earned a master’s degree in elementary education but said he always had an interest in law enforcement.

Beers, a former machinist at Electric Boat, comes from a family of law enforcement; his brother and father work in the state Department of Correction.

“Any chance I have to make my community better, I’m going to do it,” Beers said of his interest in becoming a New London police officer. 

g.smith@theday.com

Twitter: @SmittyDay

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