Born and raised in the city, Jeremy Salley is realizing his dream as one of nine new Norwalk police officers.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and something I feel that I am ready for,” the 28-year-old said. “I feel very good about what I’ll be doing. I’d love to be able to work in the youth division, having previously taught youth hockey, and I want to find a way to stay involved in that way.”
The department introduced the class at a Monday afternoon ceremony at the police station, where the probationary officers were joined by friends and family as they took oaths of office and received badges.
“These are tremendous people to even be considered one of the best, and we’re proud to have them in the department. We only take the best of the best,” Chief Harry Rilling said.
The chief said the nine recruits push the department’s total number of officers to 176, the full allotment. He said more hires may be necessary, with several officers scheduled for retirement by the year’s end. More than 500 applicants took the last two written exams to join the department.
Mayor Richard Moccia, who led officers in the oaths, said he wished more officers were receiving badges Monday.
“We always want to try to add. This year’s class is just to maintain the numbers we have, I would love to add four or five extra, but that was not possible this year,” Moccia said.
The class will embark on its 26-week training at the Connecticut Police Academy in Meriden on Feb. 20. Officers will return to the department for an additional week of in-house training before working alongside specialized field training officers for 50 days.”I’m looking forward to doing my best and learning as much as I can about the guys I’m going to be working with,” said Francois Van Rensburg, 25. “This is a great accomplishment, and one day I’d like to be involved in one of the specialized units the force has.”
The newest department members were not the only ones proud of their achievement — the department’s community room was filled with family and friends.
“I’m extremely proud of all nine of them. I know how hard my son worked to get here, and I’m very pleased he’s coming into a great organization,” said Paula Sefcik, mother of Officer Daniel Sefcik. “Ever since he was a small boy, he always did the right thing and couldn’t understand why others wouldn’t. . . . I was glad when the chief mentioned taking the best of the best because I know how much hard work went into this.”
Joining Salley, Van Rensburg and Sefcik at the academy next week will be Terrance Smith, Kyle Lipeika, Richard Montanez, Louis Proto, William Matsen and Christopher Imparato.
“It’s nice to get the new officers involved,” Rilling said. “It’s now our job to keep them and mold them to keep the city safe in a manner that is acceptable to us.”
State Police will have a more visible presence on the roads of St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Washington and St. Helena parishes as 10 new troopers take to the highways that cross the north shore.
The troopers, assigned to Troop L in Mandeville, are among 74 new recruits who will patrol roads across the state after graduating from the State Police Training Academy on Friday.
“We have never had this type of manpower,” said Capt. Oleander Smith, commander of Troop L. “We’re truly lucky. Our local legislators have been good to us.”
Troop L, with the support of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office and other local agencies, has been pushing for more troopers since the north shore population swelled in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Studies done in the aftermath of the storm showed, based on population and the number of miles traveled by motorists, Troop L’s 50 troopers were covering an area that needed about 70 units on the road, Smith said.
When staffing was thin troopers were forced to be reactive, rushing from one accident scene to another with the assistance of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, Smith said. As the troop has grown, these troopers have been able to step up their presence on the highways to potentially deter those who would speed or drive unsafely, he said.
The new recruits, combined with others who joined over the past year, have swelled Troop L’s ranks to 67 troopers, Smith said. By putting more troopers on the road, particularly in trouble spots, Smith said he hopes to cut down on accidents, drunken driving and speeding. “People got to the point where they didn’t see us and they did their own thing,” Smith said. “Now we’ve got to get people back into the groove and realize the speed limit is not 80, it’s 70.”
The money for the new troopers was included in this year’s budget.
The new recruits will spend at least 45 days training with veteran troopers before being sent out on patrol alone, Smith said.
The new troopers are: Kevin M. Barnes Jr., Jeremiah V. Bell, Brett M. Dupre, Matthew S. Graham, Denis J. Indest III, Marlena A. Lee, Jeremy J. Price, Eric K. Thaxton, Ernest C. Wilkes and Nicholas Yatcilla.
A Virginia State Trooper is credited with saving a little girl’s life, on her third birthday.
When Trooper K.J. Johnson arrived at an accident scene on February 6, he noticed smoke and flames coming from a car and heard a mother screaming for him to rescue her child. The car ran off the road, flipped and caught on fire on Route 13 in Accomack County.
Trooper Johnson tried to put out the fire with his portable extinguisher, but it wasn’t enough. So he crawled into the burning car and pulled the child to safety. She was stuck under the dashboard of the overturned vehicle.
Paramedics arrived and took the little girl, two other children and their mother to Shore Memorial Hospital. The 3-year-old had two broken legs.
Trooper Johnson was treated and released for smoke inhalation.
State Police say the trooper’s heroic actions and quick thinking saved the three year old.