LUDLOW — Jhon Wielblad of the Ludlow Police Department has been promoted to sergeant after serving as acting sergeant since December 2022.

Ludlow Police Chief Dan Valadas and the Board of Selectmen conducted interviews with Wielblad and Derek Smolinski at its Jan. 23 meeting before deciding to assign the midnight shift patrol position to Wielblad.

“He has been assuming all the duties for a little over 12 months as a shift sergeant. When he is on at night, he is the eyes and ears and the leadership of the town of Ludlow,” Valadas said.

Wielblad was born and raised in Ludlow and started his career at the Police Department in 2013 as an intern.

He added, “Growing up in Ludlow, being passionate about Ludlow, I think there is no better way that you can give back to the community than being a police officer in the town that you grew up in. Being in the role of sergeant or supervisor, you have a much larger impact on patrol and the function of the department.”

Since being an intern, Wielblad said he worked his way up to his current role as acting sergeant.

“For the past year I have been an acting sergeant for the overnight shift which I am passionate about. I love my job. I love going into work and working with the patrolmen and helping the develop into the progression that they want to go to with their careers,” Wielblad added.

Before coming a police officer, Wielblad worked for the Hampden County Sherrif’s Department.

“In the sheriff’s academy and police academy, I got the physical fitness award. The police academy I was put in a leadership role as a squad leader, and I try to excel at everything I do. In the Sherrif’s Department I discovered my passion for community relations.”

That passion for community relations has led Wielblad to be involved in a variety of things including being a part of Ludlow CARES Coalition, being on the Board for the Ludlow Boys and Girls club and becoming a certified D.A.R.E instructor while serving on the board for D.A.R.E. Massachusetts.

He also recently acquired his master’s degree and EMT certification at approximately the same time.

“I graduated with a 3.9 GPA. It was quite difficult because while getting my degree, I was in the process of getting my EMT certificate. Both schoolings are not easy by any means and with the support of my family and good time management, I was able to accomplish all of that,” Wielblad said.

With recent the recent events of Wilbraham Police Officer Cameron Prosperi being shot and wounded while responding to a call that led to a shootout, Wielblad discussed how he would approach the next shift as sergeant with his officers.

“The next day that I was on, we all sat in the sergeant’s room, and we had a very lengthy conversation about what took place, what happened. It’s kind of a reminder that’s one of the most common calls that we go to. You never know which one is going to be out of the norm. If that happened in Ludlow and I am working the next shift, we want to have that conversations for starters, but I also want offer the officers resources that they can use for responding to an incident like that.”

According to Wielblad, an average person has one to three critical incidences throughout their entire life while an average patrolman will see anywhere from 170 to 180 critical incidences throughout their entire career.

“It’s important that we bring that up and more people start realizing that and we have more open conversations to start getting rid of that stigma that is just another day on the job.”

Wielblad also discussed mental health as the biggest challenge he sees facing Ludlow today.

He said, “I think if you ask anyone in town it’s going to be mental health which encompasses a whole slew of things from anxiety, suicide idealizations, addiction and several other factors. I think as a department and as a community we are doing a lot of things right in addressing those issues.”
Board of Selectmen Chair Tony Goncalves asked about the Police Department adding new technology like body cameras.

Wielblad said, “Technology is ever evolving and there is always something new coming out so it is important to stay on top of it and utilize as much as it as we can to help better our jobs and do them more effectively. Body cameras. I think we should get them. There are several studies out where like 99% of the time the cameras are for the officers showing the interactions and use of force has dropped statistically because the subject knows that they are being recorded. I know it’s a massive undertaking though.”

The Board of Selectmen and Valadas said that both candidates were qualified but agreed to vote Wielblad as the next sergeant.

Valadas added, “Wielblad has appeared in front of the board twice before. Jhon’s reputation with us started a long time ago as a young student. I thought right away all the staff there felt that he was such a good natured young man who got along with everyone and is very easy going. He is very motivated. A lot of the young officers in our department are in great shape and they look up to him.”

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