Keep the Fire and Police Departments Separate


Motivated by the noble goal of saving citizens money, some municipalities have experimented with combining the Fire and Police Departments into one Department of Public Safety. While this may work in small towns with low call volumes, in urban New Rochelle, both departments are too busy with their own work. Just as a single person is not typically a doctor and a lawyer, firefighting and policing are trades which have little overlap and take a lifetime to master.

In the same spirit, consolidating the Police and Fire Commissioners into a single Public Safety Commissioner (PSC) has been suggested. Typically, this PSC would be an expert in either firefighting or policing, putting one agency at a great disadvantage. Furthermore, in New Rochelle, where the Chief and Commissioner positions have already been combined, this would actually cost more money.

What the Experts Have to Say

New Rochelle Fire Study:

“The City is encouraged to maintain the currently separate Police and Fire Departments”  (p. 48)

“When combining Fire & Police Departments, “the potential for success primarily involves small, generally rural, communities” but “New Rochelle is an urban city in which both the Police and Fire Departments are very busy in delivering their respective essential public safety services.”  (p. 39)

“the transition to a… Public Safety Commissioner… [would result] in an increase in overall cost” (p. 40)

“This PSO approach would result in one agency being at a great disadvantage with the results often causing complaints of “favoritism” resulting in perceived or actual poor management and poor performance.” (p. 40)

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