Police Academy Doubles Down

Julia Zorthian PhotoWhen Mayor Toni Harp began addressing the new police cadets at a 1 p.m. swearing-in ceremony Tuesday at the Sherman Parkway police academy, not all the cadets were listening.

Some were in a different room.

That’s because for the first time ever, two separate classes of cadets were in the building: A class about to finish their training and hit the streets; and another class of recruits just getting started.

Harp addressed that latter group Tuesday. She spoke to 38 brand new recruits and administered an oath to them.

Meanwhile, down the hall, 25 more seasoned cadets went about their training, which began on March 31.

The city has decided to launch two simultaneous classes because of a severe shortage of cops. The department is down to 380 cops — nearly 100 officers understaffed . Because of the shortage, the city authored spending $500,000 on overtime pay for the summer to keep enough cops on the beat.

The overlapping classes of cadets will more efficiently fill those vacant positions and “regrow” the force, Police Chief Dean Esserman said.

“We are rebuilding the New Haven police department with the support of the leadership and the support of the community, the people we serve,” Esserman said at Tuesday’s ceremony.

The ceremony marked the beginning of six months of training for the new cadets. The academy will simultaneously train all 73 cadets until the first group graduates in October.

In her remarks before the oath, Harp said the two classes of cadets training at once will not only help the department in terms of stress level and morale, but also help the city in terms of “overtime costs and their debilitating impact on the city’s budget.”

Harp added that background checks are already underway for the next class, to enroll at the beginning of 2015.

As she, Esserman and other police department officials spoke, the 38 cadets stood and stared straight ahead from behind the long tables of the amphitheater-style classroom.

When it was time for the official swearing-in, Harp instructed the officers to repeat after her and to state their own names. The cadets then took the oath, saying in unison:

“I solemnly swear that I will faithfully and impartially perform the duties of the office of police recruit to the best of my ability and according to law, and that I will at all times strive to use the power entrusted to me as such officer for the best interest of this city, so help me God.”

Esserman took the podium after Harp, and told the officers he hopes they will always honor the two names they wear on their uniforms of New Haven and of their families.

“Duty, honor, integrity, courage, compassion. That’s what we believe in. That’s what we believe our oath represents,” Esserman said.

“A Long Road Ahead”

Esserman and the other speakers at the ceremony also emphasized the difficulties the cadets would face over their six months of training.

The instruction at the academy, located on Sherman Parkway in Newhallville, includes both an academic curriculum and a physical agility component. The program is regulated by the state’s Police Officer Standards and Training Council. Hamden Police Chief Thomas Wydra, who sent two of his recruits to the current class, said the New Haven Academy curriculum has an additional focus on crime prevention.

New Haven Assistant Chief of Professional Standards and Training Al Vazquez told the cadets they are embarking on a career that is not a job, but “a way of life.” He thanked them for doing so, though the next six months would be challenging and taxing.

“I ask you one thing,” Vazquez said. “Don’t give up on that career. Don’t throw it away in five minutes.”

Wydra told the cadets of a similar path that will become harder before it gets easier, if that ever happens.

“You have a long road ahead of you here,” he said.

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posted by: IloveMYcity203 on July 29, 2014  5:53pm


Can you find out the details of when there is going to be a new recruitment? That would be greatly appreciated. I am hearing conflicting reports. Several New Haven residents and I would like to know.

This is great news. New Haven needs as many officers as possible, and the veterans can finally get some rest and ease the work load.

posted by: dandelp on July 29, 2014  8:53pm

There will be yearly recruting classes hopefully starting next spring. There are still names on the existing civil service list.

posted by: Paperless on July 30, 2014  7:27am

Nothing personal but what happen to the department that was suppose to hire more people who look like the community they serve ???  I’m sure most of the officers have good intent when they take on the roll of a police officer to protect and serve. They will do the job and be fair and up hold the oath they took and some will not that’s just the nature of the beast… No amount of training is going to change someone mind if the thought process of how they feel about certain people and situation are inbred in them because of their previous up bringing .. As much as some worked on bringing a change in law enforcement it seem we are going backwards… This is a very diverse city and when it come to employment it really should look somewhat like the people who live here and pay taxes…you can find qualified divers people to feel these roles…they did in the pass and it can be done for the future..but then to qualification has always been in the eyes of the beholder…

posted by: IloveMYcity203 on July 30, 2014  1:23pm


I heard the list expires October 2014. I also heard that they are almost through with the list. (it’s just hearsay though)


I agree with you! This class is from and old list that happened under Destefano’s watch. Let’s see what happens when the new recruitment starts. One can only hope it’s different.

posted by: Call it as I see it on July 30, 2014  4:34pm

As they say ” never judge a book by it’s cover”. You do not know anything about this group of cadets.  Just because the picture shows mostly light skinned individuals, that doesn’t mean their not street smart. Remember, there are many steps this group went through to get to where they are.  The Department picks the best candidate for the job and not what they look like. I’ll be happy to see more Police Officers on the street in any race or color.

posted by: Trustme on July 31, 2014  11:17am

I’m speechless by your comment Paperless. The best candidates are put in this academy, no one goes by color here. The NHPD officers that recruit these cadets are of all races. And your comments are what’s wrong with society, not everything as to be about race. This is why I barely read the comments in Nhi anymore. Just sad.

posted by: Walt on July 31, 2014  12:22pm

These candidates have rated highly on many tests of their ability   to absorb the necessary knowledge and perform their duties. 

Therefor, I prefer   the likelihood of their success, to the lawsuits caused by affirmative action abuse,  as recently has occurred   in the Fire Department

The PD, per the photos does seem to attract   much more than its reasonable share of bald or greying candidates however—-or is a shaved- head now required as it was a for me many years ago in Boot Camp?