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    Tuesday, March 05, 2024

    New London police to add two female officers to its ranks

    The New London Police Department swore in two new recruits on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023 during a ceremony at City Hall. Amanda Battey of Norwich, left, and Rebecca Soto of New London will start police academy training later this month. (Courtesy New London Police Department).
    New London Police recruit Rebecca Soto shares a hug with her mother, Lourdes Rios, at a swearing-in ceremony Thursday, Nov. 17, 2023 at New London City Hall. (Greg Smith/The Day)
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    New London ― Police welcomed two new recruits to the department at a swearing-in ceremony at City Hall on Friday, part of an ongoing effort to increase the number of officers and reach what has at times seemed an unattainable level of 80 sworn officers.

    New London Police Chief Brian Wright said the fact that both recruits are female and one was raised and lives in New London is an added benefit that will serve to diversify the department and bring its number of female officers to eight.

    “We look to grow our numbers in that category,” Wright said. “I’m looking forward to a time when we have a shift run by females. That would be very special to me.”

    Rebecca Soto, 38, of New London and Amanda Battey, 23, of Norwich, will start in-house training this weekend and will attend the Eastern Regional Police Academy at the end of the month.

    Soto was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and raised in New London and currently is employed at Electric Boat. Soto said she she’d “always wanted to do something meaningful.”

    “With this, I feel like I can do something for my community,” Soto said. “I feel like I know the community, the people around here. I’m excited.”

    Soto’s mother, Lourdes Rios, called her daughter “small but very mighty,” and said she is fully supportive of her decision to become a police officer.

    “Look out New London!” Lourdes said.

    Battey grew up in Plainfield and graduated from Harvard H. Ellis Technical School and had always looked toward a career in law enforcement. She is a former emergency dispatcher in Plainfield who was most recently working at Mashantucket Police Department and is studying criminology and sociology at Eastern Connecticut State University.

    The police department, despite an ordinance that mandates at least 80 officers, currently has 66 officers. Wright said the city has been financially supportive of all efforts to hire new officers but the department, at times, has hired new officers only to lose others to transfers or retirements.

    The department is in constant recruitment mode, hosting its own entry level tests for new recruits and welcoming any transfers from other departments, Capt. Matthew Galante said. The city recently had three officers leave, two to out-of-state departments.

    Both of the new recruits will attend the newly-opened Eastern Regional Police Academy in Norwich, run by the Law Enforcement Council of Connecticut.

    Law Enforcement Council Executive Director James Deveny, who also serves as police academy commandant, said this year’s class of 16 has six female officers. He said he didn’t have a explanation for the uptick in female recruitment but said department across the region are “aggressively recruiting qualified candidates,” in a time when interest in law enforcement nationwide has waned.“

    There is a national 30x30 initiative to raise awareness of the benefits of bringing in more female officers and of demographic diversity at police departments. Studies indicate females are less likely to use excessive force, are the targets of fewer complaints and lawsuits and perceived to be more empathetic and make fewer discretionary arrests.

    g.smith@theday.com

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