The city is merging its police, fire, and office of emergency management (OEM) into a new public safety department.
Municipal officials say it will save “substantial” amount of money. Four supervisory positions will be eliminated as part of the merger, according to an ordinance preliminarily approved by the City Council.
The merger of police and fire dispatch operations into the new public safety department will eliminate 7 telecommunication jobs, saving $189,000 for the city, according to documents the city submitted to the state.
“It’s really to just operate under one silo,” said police director Jerry Speziale. He said the new department will be headed by a public safety director.
Speziale said the city is returning to running police and fire out of a single department.
In 1974, the city passed an ordinance merging both departments into a public safety department.
In 2013, the city undid the merger to create separate police and fire departments, according to municipal records.
Both departments had their own directors. The fire director’s position has been vacant since 2014.
The new ordinance allows the public safety director to assume the duties of the police chief in the event of a vacancy.
The new ordinance allows the public safety director to run operations if the city decides to no longer have a police chief. But that would require the council to remove the chief’s position from the table of organization.
“There’s a lot of things that has to happen for that to occur,” said law director Khalifah Shabazz.
The council will hold a public hearing on Dec. 11 before passing the ordinance merging the two departments.
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