Cities across the country are moving to cross-train police and firefighters to share duties as a way to trim budgets in tough financial times.
The Detroit News this month reported that numerous Michigan communities, including several Detroit suburbs have combined public safety forces in recent years.
The western Michigan city of Kalamazoo, which, with 75,000 people is about the same size as Evanston, is the largest community in the state that’s gone to a combined public safety department.
Leonard Matarese, a research with the International City/Council Management Association, told the paper Kalamzaoo saves $3 million to $4 million a year with the combined service.
Some consolidations have focused on giving police the paramedic training that most firefighters already have, while others have also included training police to fight fires.
The newspaper says fire unions have generally strongly opposed such consolidations, while police have been more receptive.
Governing magazine says police-fire combinations “are nothing new” and some communities have started expanding the concept to cross train public works and parks department workers as firefighters.
Evanston officials, while they say they’re examining a wide array of potential cost-saving measures in an effort to close multi-million-dollar budget gaps over the next two years, have not yet proposed such combined job duites here.
Should Evanston consider cross-training police and firefighters as a cost-saving measure?online survey