HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — 18 brand-new Hartford Police Officers march into City Hall to raise that right hand and take the oath. They are ready to report for duty.
It is the first time in the last 3 1/2 years Hartford Police Chief James Rovella has been able to hire police officers because of budget constraints. He says it is not been easy managing a police department down nearly 100 police officers. “I worry about the wellness of our Police Department I worry about the hours they work the overtime hours they work in the private jobs they work and I worry about the mental status while they’re working for us there’s a lot at play here.”
Chief Rovella says the smaller class size is better.
18 officers is a good start as they can pay more attention to detail and thus graduate a better quality officer ready to hit the streets running. He says 18 new officers is a good step, but they have some numbers coming up that could put as many as 25 officers on the street within a year.
We do want to hire up to 150 officers over the next three to five years it’s a big endeavor and with that comes a lot of scrutiny for the people that apply,” he added. And that scrutiny is changing, Chief Rovella says they are re-manufacturing the qualifications to nationwide standards for 2015.
For example, if you been arrested for marijuana use and it was a misdemeanor infraction, you can apply. “We are akin to people who use marijuana. You have to have a year separation from using the marijuana. We need to know that you are on the straight and narrow and understand what we’re doing in life here.”
You can also apply if you have had one DUI, but if you have domestic violence or a felony, the chief says don’t waste your time.
Rovella is hoping the newer standards will produce a better crop of candidates, because Hartford is constantly loosing officers to other departments around the state, and he says that with some pride. “These are the most experienced officers around they are the best trained they have seen more and done more in a short period of time and they are perfect employees to be hired by all the other agencies out there.”
The recruiting, hiring, and training of the next 25 officers will be paid for by the federal government through grants given to the city.