The City of Benton Harbor consolidated police force with 18 officers and a fire department with 10 fire fighters into a Public Safety Department (PSD) PSD Agreement signed July 2011, and became effective October 2011.
The public safety department structure increases efficiencies through multi-tasking; with Public Safety Officers being able to perform both the duties and responsibilities of a police officer and fire fighter/first responder.
Cross training has been completed and coverage levels have increased dramatically with 4 public safety officers on the road at all times; 20 public safety officers perform both police and fire duties, along with 1 full-time fire fighter and 11 paid-on call fire fighters, increasing total available fire fighters from 11 to 32.
The addition of part-time and reserve police officers increased total police coverage from 18 to 36 at the time of consolidation to a PSD. The PSD also consolidated Building/Code Enforcement Department under its umbrella allowing for multi-tasking of PSD personnel to perform other duties in this area.
This internal consolidation has resulted in increased efficiencies; increased level of police and fire service for the community, while reducing total public safety operating costs.
UPDATE 2014: This proposal has been fully implemented as of FY2014. Cost savings resulting from the consolidation of police and fire, and the significant reduction of overtime, has resulted in savings of $675,046 from FY2011 to FY2012 and another $392,037 from FY2012 to FY2013. Additional cost savings are projected for the current fiscal year.
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