No Defunding Police–Make Police, Fire, & Emergency One Public Safety Unit

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 officersfirefighters 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
Sunnyvale CA
Newark NJ
Albuquerque NM
Kalamazoo, Michigan
Walker, MI
Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

A Package Deal: Police, Fire, and EMS All in One

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,





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