By Ralph Money
Ridgefield is such a wonderful town! Think about it: what defines our town includes terrific families, schools, the arts, restaurants and so much more. In short, we are a community — a community of caring neighbors with so many collective strengths.
Ridgefield is also a safe community with a superb police department and strong career and volunteer fire departments. Thankfully, we have a very low crime rate — and a particularly low rate of serious crimes. In no small measure, this is a function of our community itself, but it is also a function of a community-minded police department where all our officers are community police officers, not just a small subset.
As a police commissioner, I have seen first-hand that the Ridgefield Police Department is grounded on a set of six core values – integrity, fairness, caring, justice, service, and accountability. And in an era where some communities across our county have local departments with less sturdy and, unfortunately, poorer grounding, our department stands strong. We need to keep our department strong and our Town safe and caring.
That said, we must not rest on our laurels and instead be prepared for the future with investments in continuing education programs for our officers as well as equipping our officers to maximize their productivity and their service to our Town.
One critical area of public safety where the Town has underinvested, quite frankly, is in our public safety facilities. There have been various plans for improving them for more than 20 years, but as they stand now, the fire and police headquarters are outdated, costly to maintain and no longer serve the needs of our Town. Moving forward the Town needs to take a strategic, long term and practical approach for addressing this facilities shortfall. A new, combined public safety facility needs to be driven forward. Many of us strongly believe that there are both operational synergies and economic advantages of a combined headquarters for both our fire and police departments as well as the emergency 911 dispatch center.
Many of us also view that a new public safety facility should represent what is special about Ridgefield. This should include a large “community room” within the facility can be used for events like the American Red Cross CPR, first aid and babysitting classes and for special meetings for youth groups and seniors (and yes, with plenty of public parking).
The implementation of a new public safety facility needs to be done carefully and with a keen eye on managing the costs involved in this important project. We need to balance smart budgeting with an eye on the future — defined by delivering the best services possible to Town residents and visitors.
A new facility would also support several priorities going forward that will be critical to a safe and caring future. Among these are thoughtful police policies for protecting our community — including keeping a special eye on programs that support our seniors and our youth as well as our local businesses. Those policies also require our department be a leader in in community policing. This includes caring and accountability in how the department members carry out their duties and responsibilities. And this makes investing in training and facilities is more critical than ever.
Keep Ridgefield safe and caring.
Ralph Money is a Democrat standing for re-election to the Ridgefield Board of Police Commissioners on November 2nd.