NEW CANAAN — Two new officers are hitting the streets of New Canaan. After weeks of physical and academic training, Matthew Blank and Sebastian Obando graduated from the State Police Academy on Sept. 15 and are now training within the New Canaan Police Department.

Obando comes to the department after graduating Pennsylvania State University last December with a degree in criminology. Blank served in the National Guard for 31/2 years and has assorted college credits.

Both Blank and Obando were accepted to the department after a months-long application process that included several interviews, physical and written assessments, background checks and a polygraph test. After standing out from the 75 or so applicants who originally applied to New Canaan, the new officers spent four weeks at the overnight state police academy in Meriden. They spent their days there studying state and federal law, as well as receiving the physical training needed to become an officer. This will be followed by about another 11 weeks of field training.

“There’s a lot of learning in the academy,” Obando said. “It’s a lot more extensive than I feel like the community knows.”

He highlighted the exams in the classroom, as well as the tests of the practical skills needed on the job.

After successfully completing their academy training, both officers said they are excited to begin working in the department and contributing to the New Canaan community.

“I feel like going to a big school and living in a diverse area, I have good communication skills and that’s definitely important in police work,” said Obando, who is from Westchester County. “Being able to talk to people, whether they’re young or older, whether they’re from Connecticut or Florida or another country — I think that’s going to help me in my career.”

“For me, growing up, I was always close to police officers,” he added. “During athletics, they were all my coaches. They were very respectful. They taught me discipline and I looked up to them, so that definitely got me interested. It’s a career where you’re doing something not necessarily for yourself. You’re doing it for people you care about, people you don’t even know. That’s important, that’s something I know I’ll be proud to be a part of.”

Blank, who lives in Stamford, has been working with the middle school theater program and wants to give back to the community that he’s gotten to know.

“Working in the schools, knowing the families, knowing the kids, kind of giving back to people that I’ve already impacted their lives. ... I want to continue to do that,” he said. “That was a big draw for me. I think it’s important for good people who want to do the job to raise their hand and do the job. My parents instilled a giving-back-to-the-community kind of mentality to me. It’s a noble profession. It’s something I can hang my hat on at the end of the day and my kid can look up to.”

ekayata@hearstmediact.com; @erin_kayata