The Waterbury Police Department desperately needs more officers. On Wednesday night, it was one step closer to filling the ranks.
“We need more police presence that's the bottom line,” explained Arthur Denze. He said their presence was critical in the Town Plot neighborhood where he lives. There has been a spike in break in’s there this year. “I have a concern for my neighborhood all of town plot and the city,” he added.
The Waterbury Police Department is down almost two dozen officers. Neighborhood groups started to patrol the streets themselves because of the shortage. “We've been adapting and improvising up until this point. To get these officers on the street will be a tremendous help,” said Police Chief Vernon Riddick.
The Police Chief told NBC Connecticut the shortage was largely due to officers leaving to work for other departments in Connecticut that offered better incentives. He said he was coming up with a plan to keep the officers he currently had, and the new ones too. “We're currently in contract negotiations and we're working out those issues right now,” Chief Riddick explained.
The new hires will bring the Waterbury Police Department to full staff. Their training will start on Thursday, but they will not actually be on the streets until early next year. “It can’t be a relief until we see them on the street,” Arthur Denze explained. He and others who live in Waterbury said the extra help couldn’t come fast enough. “The main thing is safety, that's the main thing,” Denze added.
The Police Chief said he also wanted to hire 5 more veteran officers. The money for the new positions is in the City’s budget.