JPD swears in four new officers

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Four new police officers are now ready to protect and serve the citizens of Johnston following a formal swearing-in ceremony held on Friday, Dec. 18.

“I’d like to personally congratulate these recruits on graduating the academy. I know how challenging the academy can be, especially coupled with the strain of the global pandemic,” said Johnston Police Chief Joseph Razza. “You recruits are entering law enforcement at unprecedented times, a time that has seen our brothers and sisters challenged on a daily basis. Police work is ever changing and continually evolving, it is a challenging career filled with triumphs and tribulations.”

Joining the ranks of the Johnston Police Department are Patrolwoman Ashley Vanbemmelen and Patrolmen Thomas Pederzani, Manuel Perez and Cody Weaver.

According to Chief Razza, the new officers would be challenged to “do the right thing” on a daily basis, and to make split-second decisions in the best interest of the public, other officers and the department as a whole. The chief encouraged them to remember their training, to be professional, and to serve with courage, distinction and honor.

“You will be required to put yourselves in harm’s way, help those who can’t help themselves, protect the weak from oppression and defend our community from those individuals who want to threaten it,” Razza said.

Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena administered the oath to each of the new probationary officers. Before doing so, he offered words of encouragement and reiterated his support for the Police Department and its mission.

“For the new officers, we welcome you to what is the best department that I know in New England. Obviously, we’re working under unprecedented times with the pandemic,” Polisena said. “It’s a very different job nowadays.”

Polisena said that as long as he is the mayor, he will “never, ever defund the police,” and he knows that the men and women who serve put their lives on the line every day.

“I’ve also made it known that if any other community around us defunds the police, that I can make the decision as the public safety commissioner that we will no longer send help,” Polisena said. “We want to make sure, obviously, that our police officers always have the equipment that they need.”

Due to COVID-19 regulations, the ceremony was limited in size. However, the proceedings were live streamed to the new officers’ relatives and friends. Patrolman Pederzani’s mother pinned on his officer’s badge following his swearing-in, while the three other recruits were pinned by their fathers. Chief Razza told the officers to draw strength from their families.

“Remember what it took for you to get here today, the hard work, the dedication and true determination. Remember that this accomplishment is not only yours, but also needs to be shared with your family who has supported your journey every step of the way,” Razza said. “Remember that your family will always be a source of inspiration and support for you as you navigate your career.”

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