Three new additions to the New London Police Department promised to serve and protect the community Thursday.
The department swore in Officers Gus Salas and Christopher Rood, and Police Trainee Jose Pansini.
“I want to give back to society and I want to serve the people of New London,” Pansini said.
He’s proud to wear his Connecticut Police Academy uniform and even prouder to know he’ll soon don the New London Police one.
“It always caught my attention because it’s such a diverse city, interesting place to come,” Pansini said of New London, adding ferry rides first attracted him to the city.
After meeting the officers at the department, and feeling the confidence they gave him, he knew he wanted to be part of the police force.
Pansini was born in Venezuela and has lived in Spain, Puerto Rico and the United States. His ability to speak Spanish and Italian will help him serve a diverse metropolis like New London.
Newly sworn in Officer Gus Salas is also fluent in Spanish having even assisted the department with translations in the past.
“I want to see that little young kid that’s like, you know what, I want to be like him because of the uniform,” Salas said about the impact he hopes to have on the community.
His community. Salas has lived in New London for about 20 years.
Born in San Jose, Costa Rica, Salas grew up in Norwalk. He got his bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a masters from University of New Haven.
Salas served the U.S. Marine Corps as a scout sniper. He also was part of the Manchester Police Department before spending 10 years with the Connecticut State Police as part of the Statewide Narcotics Task Force as a Detective and Narcotics K9 handler to black lab Albert.
He was most recently with Mashantucket Tribal Police.
Salas has earned 14 awards as an active duty Marine and a State Police officer.
“With a diverse force you are able to communicate and the community is able to kind of understand – they feel that connection with you. We can’t do our job unless the community supports us,” Salas said.
Numbers from New London Police Chief Peter Reichard show 15 percent of New London Police officers speak more than one language including Spanish, Russian, Italian, Cantonese and Arabic.
Reichard touts the experience of his officers.
Newly sworn in Officer Christopher Rood was born and raised in Winham. Among his experience, he worked for Pratt & Whitney as a tool and die maker. Then he served 21 years with the Willimantic Police Department earning the ranks of corporal and detective.
“I was a field training officer as well so I figure I could be a mentor to the younger guys coming on,” Rood said.
In his tenure, Rood was recognized three times by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for his enforcement of drunk driving laws as well earning police merit awards and a distinguished service award.
He spend a year and a half with Mashantucket Tribal Police before taking the job in New London.
Salas and Rood started their police careers together at the police academy back in 1996.