Bay City considers merging police, fire departments into one pub - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Bay City considers merging police, fire departments into one public safety department

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(07/30/12) - A Mid-Michigan community is looking at changing their public safety model to save money.

It's an idea that some cities and towns have kicked around when budgets are tight.

Bay City is looking at merging it's police and fire to make up a nearly $2 million deficit.

This plan would not mean any officers or firefighters are laid off. Instead, they just wouldn't fill open positions.

Still, some aren't convinced that this is the best plan for taxpayers.

"I don't like to look at this as a combination of departments, it's a creation of a new department," said Karey Prieur, Bay City's Interim Fire Chief.

The proposal goes like this: during the course of five years, 20 positions will be lost, and two dozen personnel will then be trained for both fire and police tasks.

And at least one fire station will likely close.

"If we go with a public safety model where the cops will be cross trained as firefighters, they'll be out in their cars and can still arrive in a timely manner," Prieur said.

Monday, police and fire chiefs answered questions, but not everyone is on board.

"Citizens, I don't think are going to benefit greatly from it, firefighters definitely won't, it more or less decimates our department, their plan is five years from now, they'll have four guys on duty a day," Kurt Wagner, Bay City Firefighter Local 160 President said.

And he says there simply won't be enough public safety officers to respond to fires.

But the police officers association supports this plan.

"My job is to protect cops and the only way I can see it doing that, and the reason I see this as a plausible idea, is by cross training them and making them as valuable as they can be and less likely to be laid off," said Dan Kuhn of the Police Officers Association of Michigan.

Next, commissioners want to see what the community thinks and they'll be seeking public input.

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