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The Cheshire Police Department is back to full staffing levels after the newest officer was sworn in last week.
On Aug. 18, Vincienzo Balcastro took his oath in front of his new colleagues and Judge Raymond Voelker, saying he was excited to have joined the Cheshire department. Balcastro, 27, was hired from the Wallingford Police Department and will be road-ready in a matter of weeks.
"I'm excited to get started," he said. "I'm ready to begin a career with a new agency."
Balcastro worked with the Wallingford police for more than four years before deciding to come to Cheshire. There was an opening following the retirement of Sgt. Phil Giampietro. Officer Jeff Sutherland was promoted to Sergeant, and Balcastro will replace Sutherland on patrol. Balcastro explained that a former colleague and friend now works with the Cheshire department, so he knew what to expect if he was hired.
What he heard from his friend reinforced his idea that the Cheshire Police Department was an organization for which he wanted to work.
"I knew how much camaraderie and brotherhood was here," Balcastro explained. "It's a whole family, that's what drew me here. They have welcomed me with open arms."
The hiring of Balcastro brings the department up to 48 full-time sworn officers, which Police Chief Neil Dryfe said is "full strength" for the department.
If a new hire has no professional police background, they have to go to the police academy for 22 weeks and then train with a Cheshire officer for another 12 weeks. Since Balcastro has experience, he will be trained on Cheshire practices in around six weeks and be ready for the road, Dryfe said.
"He just has to do some internal training," Dryfe explained. "It's a shortened time frame to get out and start helping the community."
The department pays for its officers to be trained at the academy, so there are some savings with the hiring of an experienced officer. Additionally, Dryfe explained that when the department was short an officer, it reflected in overtime as bodies were needed to meet minimum staffing requirements.
When asked why he thought Balcastro left Wallingford to work in Cheshire, Dryfe said it was the department's reputation.
"The reputation here is as a nice place to work and I think people respond to that," Dryfe said.
Town Manager Michael Milone offered some brief remarks at the ceremony last week, which was attended by fellow Cheshire officers, friends, and family. Milone said the department is very professional and has the respect of the community, and he hoped that Balcastro would "find it to be a great place to work."
"I wish you the best of luck. I hope you have a very successful career," Milone said.
Balcastro began training at the beginning of the week, meaning he should be ready to hit the roads sometime in October.