Nicholas Perna was appointed to the Ridgefield Police Commission Jan. 28. He replaces Stephen Saloom, who resigned his seat on Jan. 1 to move to Washington, D.C.
Perna, who holds a PhD in economics from MIT, has lived in Ridgefield since 1970.
“When I heard about the vacancy I thought this might an interesting way to get back into town government,” Perna said.
He previously served on the town Board of Tax Review.
“I’m now retired and I thought it might be kind of good to give something back to the town,” Perna said.
Under the town charter, Perna will have to run for re-election in November. He was appointed in a 3-2 vote by the five-member commission.
“He’ll be running, I’ll be up for election again, and Charlie Knoche will be up for election as well,” said Chairman George Kain.
Perna will need to be sworn in ahead of the commission’s next meeting Thursday, Feb. 14.
“Nick’s got a PhD in economics, he’s been an economics forecaster on a national level,” Kain told The Press. “He’s also worked as an economist for the Federal Reserve.”
Perna’s son and daughter-in-law are both police officers, though not in Ridgefield. Occasionally, he’s gone on ride-alongs with his son, he said.
“It’s an interesting profession,” Perna said, “[it’s a] good profession, but it requires a good amount of training.”
He believes his background as an economist will be of value to the commission.
“I’ve got some experience looking at budgets and things like that, but it’s a disciplined way at things that’s applicable to any number of issues,” he said. “We’re always having to make sense of things that don’t always add up.”
Finger on the pulse
The Police Commission serves as the body overseeing the Ridgefield Police Department. It has final say on all promotions, appointments, and firings for the department. The board also serves as the town traffic authority.
“We set the policy for what the police does based on what the residents need,” said Kain. He said he believes Perna’s “deep entrenchment” in the community will be what benefits the commission most.
“There may be people who have had more law enforcement experience, or public safety experience, but when you have someone who’s had as much community experience as [Perna]... that’s what you want,” said Kain.
“He’s got his finger on the pulse of the town.”