Cash-Strapped Cities Look To Sunnyvale For Cost-Saving Public Safety Model
SUNNYVALE (CBS SF) – The city of Sunnyvale’s unique cross-training program – where police, emergency medical personnel and firefighters are trained to perform many of the duties of their colleagues – may soon become a blueprint for towns across the country.
The Los Angeles Times reports that at least half a dozen municipalities have contacted Sunnyvale over the last six months for advice on consolidating public safety roles to save on cost. The city has required patrol officers undergo additional training and to carry first aid gear as well as fire equipment since the 1950’s, according to the Times.
With one centralized dispatch center and rotating assignments, first responders have a broad range of specialties and training which they can use when responding to an incident. In addition to the varied skill set, city officials said they are saving money – hundreds of dollars annually per capita when compared to some South Bay neighbors.
“We do more with less people because we do it all,” Public Safety Chief Frank Grgurina told the times.
Sunnyvale Public Safety Officer Greg Othon said he sometimes has a difficult time explaining exactly what he does for a living.
“I just try to say I’m a police officer and a firefighter. Then they look at me cross-eyed and I have to go into the 15-minute talk about what a public safety officer does,” said Othon. “It’s really strange when you’re in the police officer mode to now be in the middle of taking off your gun belt, taking off your ballistic vest and changing into your fire turnouts…we get our air packs and all that stuff off of the fire rigs.”
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