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Waterbury’s police chief looking at ways to get new recruits

By Matt McFarland, Evan Sobol

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    WATERBURY, Connecticut (WFSB) — New officers are needed at police departments across the state.

There’s no quick fix.

Waterbury’s police chief said two main issues departments across the state are dealing with is not just attracting new recruits, but also retaining their current ones.

Down roughly 40 officers, Waterbury Chief Fernando Spagnolo said that prevents them from more proactive police work and community outreach.

Fewer applicants and a numbers game have been impacting law enforcement agencies around the state for the last several years.

“We are starting to see it catch up, impact our abilities, especially in the urban areas in Connecticut in attracting people to the field and retaining people in the field,” said Spagnolo.

Just last week, Glastonbury police announced two former Waterbury officers transferred to their department.

When it comes to crime, the chief says the state needs to pay more attention to those consistently getting arrested, only to get back out on the street and cause trouble again.

“It’s a small portion of the population, but it’s something we really need to focus on. I think its impacting, not necessarily the recruitment, but the retention component in some areas,” Spagnolo said.

He added something like the tragic incident earlier this month in Bristol in which two officers were killed and another was injured can play a role as well.

He said not only does a traumatic event like that weigh on current officers and their families but seeing just how dangerous the job is could also impact future recruits.

“It could really impact it either way, people may decide that it’s a calling, they’re drawn to it, to try to help and make CT a safer community or it may impact them to say, you know I’m going to stay away from the career in law enforcement,” the chief said.

To help draw new officers, Spagnolo said policing needs to become a warmer profession, but also one that highlights an ever-changing job and one with a lot of opportunities.

“You have an opportunity to help individuals, you have an opportunity to help community, you have an opportunity to change history and change the direction of any incident, whether it’s an individual or a group. It’s just a great opportunity, very fulfilling, very satisfying. If you like to help people, you’re an honest person, this is where you need to be,” Spagnolo said.

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