Our names are Stephen Saloom and Arnold (Arny) DiLaura. We are both longtime public safety professionals, who are also parents of Ridgefield middle school students and concerned Ridgefield residents who are running for seats on Ridgefield’s Board of Police Commissioners.  

Opioid abuse is the greatest threat to Ridgefield’s public safety. Together we are running for Police Commission because we want to extend our support, knowledge, and resources to Ridgefield’s Police Department, as it seeks the best collaborations with the many additional partners necessary to address this relentless problem.  

Stephen’s 25-year career has been dedicated to effective criminal justice policy. He is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, was the founding Policy Director of the Innocence Project, and participated in national strategic planning for transforming victim services. He has presented to over a dozen Rotary and Lions clubs on the value of substance abuse treatment. He works across issues, across stakeholders, and even across professions to identify the best ways we can prevent public safety problems.  

Prior to his career in finance, where he was a hedge fund manager, proprietary trader and researcher, Arny spent 15 years in defense and national security, primarily in operations analysis and research. Much of this involved the analysis of potential enemy operations and weapons systems and the development of countermeasures. Applied to public safety, operations research seeks to insure that the police department and other agencies have resources such as personnel, training, equipment and so forth to respond to both existing and emerging threats. Just as today’s threats differ markedly from yesterday’s, tomorrow’s are likely to differ from today’s, and we must insure that the police department has the ability to respond effectively and efficiently.

Opioids are typically introduced to our children by trusted sources – their friends, their medicine cabinets, and the medical profession. Innocent use quickly becomes an addictive hook into our loved ones, quickly leading to addiction. Once hooked, people often become slaves to their addictions, losing themselves to it, uncontrollably destroying loving relationships and devastating families.  

Ridgefield has to use all best practices available to us to protect our loved ones, neighbors, and public safety in this national epidemic of opioid abuse. Prevention is the key, as are best practices for addressing users. Police have a central role in this work, but the very best practices and partners are necessary for their work to be effective.

Stephen began constructively pursuing this concern with Ridgefield’s Education Department, Coalition Against Substance Abuse, and Police Department when his daughter, now at East Ridge Middle School, was at Branchville Elementary School.

We are seeking important seats on the Ridgefield Police Commission because Ridgefield needs to do more, as smartly as possible, to prevent opioid abuse and addiction — and the additional public safety problems that flow from it.

The Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee provides this column.