NORWICH — During Tuesday's common council meeting, three City of Norwich Police Department Officers received promotions.
Officer Daniel Church has served with the Norwich Police Department (NPD) since 2018. Before that, he served in Iraq with the United States Marine Corps, and in Afghanistan with the US Army. He currently serves as a member of the United States Army Reserves.
On Tuesday, Church was promoted to sergeant.
"I, Daniel Church, do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution and laws of the State of New York, and of the City of Norwich," said Church. "I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, and defend them against enemies foreign and domestic, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of sergeant to the best of my ability, so help me God."
Also at Tuesday's meeting, Officer Tristan Rifanburg was promoted to the rank of Sergeant, and Sergeant Paul Slack was promoted to the rank of first sergeant.
NPD Chief Reuben Roach said the department has had a first sergeant position in the past, and bringing it back allows more officers to be out on the street.
"With this position, we can have a supervisor on the desk from 8 [a.m. to] 4:30 [p.m.], Monday through Friday, and in turn this puts police officers on the street," said Roach.
The NPD has gone through some changes since Roach's appointment as chief in February of this year. Several officers have been promoted, and a new detective position was recently created.
Roach said providing opportunities for career growth is important to retaining qualified staff within the department.
"Policing in America has changed, and less people are taking the civil service test to become law enforcement officers every year. For instance, when I took the exam in 2002, there was approximately one-hundred people who took the exam with me and we competed for four positions. As of last year, we had a total of seventeen people take our test," he explained. "Career growth is important in any police department, and keeping qualified employees is essential. We compete with other agencies in our surrounding areas, who offer significant sign-on bonuses and oftentimes higher salaries for lateral transfers."
The NPD currently has two detectives, and a third will be brought on to work on the forming Drug Task Force, which aims to address the drug use and overdose rate in the city.
"Mayor [Brian] Doliver and I are working closely to form a Drug Task Force to stem the overdose rate and the trafficking of deadly narcotics. We envision a task force with advocates, mental health workers, detectives, and community stakeholders who will help to not only deter the drug problems that we have here, but to offer ways out of that world for those who have addiction issues," said Roach.
"This additional detective will allow us to dedicate an investigator to this task force in a full-time capacity, and not be bogged down with other felonious crimes that the other detectives are working on," he added.
Roach has also focused on creating a more visible and community-focused police force by increasing downtown Norwich patrols and working to provide more training opportunities to officers.
"We have started more foot/bike patrols in the downtown district and my goal is to build a community-oriented police department. Additionally, my goal is to have an officer at training every week, and to bring as much knowledge back to our department, and city, as possible," said Roach.
"Moving forward, we are going to continue to serve this community, build bridges and trust where its needed, and to deter crime as much as possible. Partnering with outside resources will be the key to implementing these goals."