By Patrick McArdle
PITTSFORD — Three recruits who graduated Friday from the 104th Basic Training Class of the Vermont Police Academy will soon join the Rutland City Police Department, leaving the department one officer short of full complement.
The department will also be joined by another K-9 team: Officer Nate Harvey and his dog, King Cobalt, who graduated from the canine patrol school Friday.
The new officers are Josiah Corlew, Nathan Hickey and Jimmy Plakas.
City Police Chief Brian Kilcullen said the three officers who graduated will not quite allow the department to reach full staffing, but two additional hires are in the works. One of the new officers, who is expected to be hired in December, has already been trained, and the other is expected to attend the next police training class in February.
Kilcullen said he was proud of the three new officers, two of whom have already won awards.
Plakas was given an academic award for earning the highest grade-point average in his class at the Pittsford academy. Hickey was given an award voted on by his peers in the 104th Basic Training Class. The Gaiotti Award is awarded to “the recruit who demonstrates honesty, loyalty and enthusiasm for the law-enforcement profession.”
“Our officers represented themselves, their families and the department quite well throughout the entire academy session,” Kilcullen said.
Plakas is from Niskayuna, New York, close to Schenectady, the city where Kilcullen was chief until 2015.
Kilcullen said Plakas, whose background was working in his family’s restaurant until he decided he wanted a career in law enforcement, was recommended to him by an officer he knew while he was serving in New York.
Plakas was hired in January. He attended the “part-time” police academy and spent time training in the field before entering the Vermont Police Academy, which is run by the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council, to become a member of the class that graduated on Friday.
Corlew graduated from schools in Rutland — Mount St. Joseph Academy in 2011 and the College of St. Joseph in 2016.
Kilcullen said Corlew and Plakas had a similar history with the Rutland police. Both were hired in January, graduated from the part-time program, and began field training before going through the full academy.
A Great Barrington, Massachusetts, high school graduate, Hickey is an Army veteran who served overseas. Before joining the police department, Hickey worked for Rutland Mental Health.
Hickey, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Castleton University, was hired in May before attending the part-time program.
Corlew, Hickey and Plakas will not go on patrol as Rutland police right away, Kilcullen said.
Vermont has one police academy, but not all law-enforcement officers need the same training. As an example, Kilcullen spoke of training to identify drivers who might be under the influence of alcohol as a skill that would be important for a municipal officer, but not necessarily for a Fish-and-Wildlife officer.
Once the recruits spend a few more weeks on post-basic training, Corlew, Hickey and Plakas will complete their field training in Rutland.
“We expect them to be a kind of full-service officer sometime during the first quarter of ’18,” Kilcullen said.
Harvey has been an officer at the Rutland City Police Department since January 2014. He was assigned to be a canine handler about a year ago. Cobalt will join King Jagger, as the department’s second K-9.
Another graduate, Nicholas Stewart, will work locally when he joins the Brandon Police Department.