Efforts to defund city & local police departments have been made in some places.
While several smaller cities have instead created public safety departments.
These cities have consolidated police, fire, & emergency medical services into one dept.
Cross training and coordinated functions are making integration of departments work.
Lack of empirical research in public safety cross-training has hindered transparent discussion.
As part of the integration, Department of Public Safety (DPS), becomes one single integrated unit.
Integration (or consolidation) takes the form of cross-training personnel & departmental communication.
New department performs multiple functions required of a police officer, firefighter, & emergency medical technician (EMT) or paramedic.
Police officers & fire fighters are often cross-trained to perform multiple functions.
Cross-training usually limited to functions directly related to law enforcement.
With Fire or medical incidents police officers perform only security or basic first aid.
WHAT does a Combined Public Safety & Police Department Looks Like:
Example of City Services that are provided:
- Fire services: provides fire prevention and suppression.
- Rescue services: provides rescue services.
- Haz-Mat services: provides hazardous materials response.
- Ambulance and emergency medical services (EMS): provides emergency medical care and transportation
- Policing Services: provides law enforcement, & community policing.
- Emergency communications: public interface emergency communications telephone system by providing 9-1-1
- Office of Emergency Management(OEM): plans for & operates Emergency Operations Center during calamities, disasters, special events & emergencies.
- Inspections and code enforcement: usually building safety, which includes construction, electrical et al.and/or vehicle inspections.
- Animal control: This category could also include wildlife officers, game wardens, and dog catchers.
- Disaster planning; emergency preparedness; public demand; local control of anticipated public safety issues..
Administration of New Consolidated Department:
New department shares administrative support staff & back-office functions.
Sworn personnel remain specialized & have particular responsibilities.
The Police continue to arrest people and the firefighters put out fires.
However, Police officers, firefighters and/or EMTs, cross trained.
Now respond to emergencies in any capacity as one single unit.
Consolidation works best when based on the community’s character, composition, size, geographic location, & programs
Examples of Cities that are combining Public Safety & Police:
The DPS of Cobb County, Georgia
Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.
A Package Deal: Police, Fire, and EMS All in One –https://www.policechiefmagazine.org/a-package-deal-police-fire-and-ems/
Public Safety Consolidation: Does it Make Sense? – https://leb.fbi.gov/articles/perspective/perspective-public-safety-consolidation-does-it-make-sense
International City/County Management Association
Dr. Susan M. Hilal, Associate Professor, Metropolitan State University School of Law Enforcement & Criminal Justice, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
David Squier Jones, Research Assistant, Metropolitan State University School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, Brooklyn Park, MinnesotaAgencies & cities who are considering consolidation should review
Michigan State University’s Program on Police Consolidation and Shared Services’ website,