Eight new Milford police officers ready to hit the streets

Nikki Bova, 24, tried to find the words to explain the new discipline she discovered at the Milford Police Academy.

Bova is one of eight new Milford police officers who will hit the streets here Monday. An East Haven resident, she said she’d had a certain amount of discipline — her grandfather was a police officer in East Haven for 25 years and she studied criminal justice in college — but not the kind that academy training instilled in her.

When she arrived, she couldn’t understand the need to march in formation.

Now she understands, but still, the words to explain the discipline and camaraderie developed through 27 weeks of training eluded her.

New fellow officer Krystian Zbikowski, 32, helped her out with the words: “Marching alone is easy, but marching with 34 other people gets challenging,” said Zbikowski, a former Army and National Guardsman.

A total of 35 officers who will take up jobs at a number of area police departments graduated at a ceremony Friday evening at the Parsons Complex.

All of the eight who will fill vacancies in the Milford Police Department seemed eager to start their new jobs.

John Binkowski III, 23, lives in North Haven. He is the first in his family to be a police officer, but he said that he often viewed police officers he knew as role models, and that stuck with him.

Matthew Goldfuss, 30, lives in Fairfield, and he worked in retail management and sales before deciding to pursue a dream of becoming a police officer. “I always wanted to do it, since I was young,” Goldfuss said.

His sister is a police officer in Woodbridge, and while it was a bit daunting to change careers,  he decided it was time.

“It was a leap of faith, in myself,” Goldfuss said. “Milford is definitely the town to work for.”

Kevin Hilliard, 23, lives in Milford, but he’s from Massachusetts. He studied administrative justice at Salve Regina University in Rhode Island, and he had a friend who was from Milford and always bragged about the city. When Hilliard noticed online that Milford was recruiting, he jumped at the chance to enter the police academy.

When he came to Milford, he fell in love with the water, the mom and pop shops and the charm.

Christopher Murray, 32, lives in West Haven. He was in the Army for five years, and served as an infantry officer in Afghanistan. From the military, the logical career move was into police work, he said.

Despite the Army background, training at the Milford Police Academy was still rigorous, Murray said.

“It was still pretty challenging,” he said. “Though I’m used to it, our drill instructors are former Marines and they know about hard work and they definitely put us through it.”

Steven DuBrow, 22, is a Milford resident. Working as a police officer is challenging, but DuBrow said he believes training has prepared him for all aspects of the job.

There are a number of reasons DuBrow wanted to be a police officer. Camaraderie was key among those, he said.

David Bodnar, 23, from Monroe, said the physical training was probably the hardest part of the academy. And he feels he was trained very well, by intelligent and thorough instructors.

One of the highlights of training was the Pride Run in honor of late officer Daniel Wasson, who was killed in the line of duty in 1987. The new recruits ran to the AMF Bowling Lanes on the Boston Post Road, near where Wasson was killed. The new officers said it was very emotional, especially seeing a mass of other officers, even off-duty officers, there to pay their respects — a visible sign of the camaraderie and allegiance they said solidified their decisions to become police officers.