EDITORIAL: Leadership a community needs in Wallingford

EDITORIAL: Leadership a community needs in Wallingford

”It’s unfortunate that we have to respond to the reality of what’s happening.” 

While we agree with the Rev. Kathy Cunliffe, senior minister at First Congregational Church in Wallingford, we also credit her and the local police and fire departments with wanting to be prepared for anything that might happen in these troubled times.

Cunliffe has attended training through church organizations for responding to active shooter scenarios, and we all know that such attacks may still be rare, but are no longer unthinkable. In recent years and months there have been fatal shootings at churches, synagogues and mosques, both here and abroad. There have also been recent arson fires at houses of worship, including at a series of black churches in the South and a mosque in New Haven. Other recent events were enough to convince a local synagogue to hire an armed security guard. 

“There’s a lot of angst, if you will, in the community with events that happened in New Haven,” Fire Chief Richard Heidgerd said.

Heidgerd said the police and fire departments previously worked independently to reach out to the community but decided to join forces for the forum to address multiple safety concerns.

“If we can get to the people in charge, they can disseminate that information in the congregation,” Heidgerd said. 

Best to be prepared, and that’s what the Wallingford public safety leaders are doing by scheduling a forum with the leaders of religious institutions in the community to discuss public safety concerns and fire prevention, including the routine precautions that any institution might want to take.

“Based on recent events nationwide as it relates to places of worship,” said Police Chief William Wright, “we thought it was important once again to invite the clergy.”

“We’re here and we have a lot to offer,” Wright said. “We want them to know we’re immediately aware of the events occurring locally and regionally and that we are here for them.” 

This is the kind of leadership a community needs. We applaud Wright and Heidgerd for their foresight and involvement with the community.