Due diligence

Published 7:45 pm Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The arguments are well founded—both sides.

Should the City of Bainbridge keep its combined law enforcement and fire-fighting Public Safety officers under the umbrella of Bainbridge Public Safety, or separate the two functions?

Public Safety Director Larry Funderburke says the public safety concept of crossed-trained police officers is not giving the taxpayers the best deal. He told city council members last Friday at their retreat that the numbers get dicey if the nine officers on any given shift are trying to patrol the city or fight a large fire at the same time.

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But the city manager and mayor both say having dual-trained firefighters and patrol officers works. The response time for a fire is much quicker than if a separate fire truck had to respond, thus giving the city a very good insurance rating.

Furthermore, our crime rate is on par with other communities our size, so the city’s crime-fighting ability is not an issue at this point.

This newspaper is not advocating for one position or the other at this point. However, when the veteran director of public safety says the concept isn’t working and outlines legitimate concerns, it’s the obligation of the city council to re-examine in depth if the taxpayers are getting the best protection—both in fire fighting and police protection.

During this transition period between the retiring public safety director and a new one, let’s see the numbers and facts on both arguments.