Study public safety merger carefully

Gov. Rick Snyder has called on local communities to collaborate more during his inaugural term in office.
Mar 1, 2013

 

In the Tri-Cities, the latest example of such collaboration is the cities of Grand Haven and Ferrysburg and the Village of Spring Lake working on the possibility of consolidating police and fire services.

While the communities are only separated by a bridge and the Grand River, each municipality has its own police or fire presence. Grand Haven has its Department of Public Safety, Ferrysburg has its own fire department, and Spring Lake and Ferrysburg already share a police force.

A move to combine these resources would make sense for taxpayers with the potential for reduced equipment costs due to increased buying power, lower maintenance costs if vehicle redundancy was reduced, and the possibility for more resources available to fight crime and protect citizens.

The community public safety departments already collaborate on a smaller scale, so a move to consolidate may be the next progressive step.

While the idea may sound good on paper, the local communities should proceed carefully to make sure all angles are studied in great detail. It would be unfortunate to make a decision to combine forces only to have the consolidation lead to unfavorable consequences to the detriment of Tri-Cities residents.

The move to consolidate should only be made if local municipalities can ensure there will be no change in response times for emergencies, and no lack of police and firefighter presence in the different communities.

Also, if departments are combined, it must be a true consolidation and there should be no sacred cows on the table. This will ultimately lead to uncomfortable decisions on who stays and who goes, and potentially who is put in charge to lead the department.

The question of officer seniority and job titles also comes into play. All of these things need to be sorted out to make sure that the plan can indeed work.

After taking a tough look at this consolidation possibility, if leaders determine this is the way to go, residents should be able to sleep easy at night knowing that the best
decision was made. After all, the safety and well-being of local residents should not be discussed casually.

This is serious business, and our community leaders should give this serious consideration.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.
 

Comments

newspaperlawyer

This garbage even goes on in the tri cities area. Fire Departments need their wings clipped.
http://www.woodtv.com/dpp/news/t...

GHJames

Actually we are very fortunate that it doesNOT happen in the tri cities. North Ottawa Community Hospital responds to all medical calls in the area, mutual aid guarantees overlapping coverage on the edges of municipalities and Grand Haven Township FD fulltimers are paramedics. Please know what you're talking about when you badmouth these agencies. Yes there is politics here, but we are lucky that we do not have even the potential for a story like that one here.

newspaperlawyer

I don't believe anyone is bad mouthing any one agency. I'm not sure how long you have been involved in the local EMS service, But this same garbage has gone on in the tri-cties area for years and continues more some of the fire departments then others. It's not about providing medical services to the residence of the tri-cities.. its about who toes the providers have stepped on. Put volunteer back into the fire service instead of how many dollars one can make for 30 mins of work... And yes this area has had a huge ego problem that could turn into this type of a situation. SO stop with BS comments and ask yourself if you may have ever been involved in one of these situation prior. Because I have witnessed myself with several of you so called professionals.

GHJames

First, I am not involved in any local EMS service, second, I totally agree there are some huge egosin local politics. The way the system is set up locally does not allow for an incident like the one in the story you referenced. IE: North Ottawa Ambulance responds to all medical calls for service around here, they are always the nearest advanced life support in the area, there is no competition/jurisdiction issues. I think you confuse the fire dept.s for something other than what they are in medical situations here, first responders. Someone closer than the ambulance with basic EMS knowledge and equipment filling in the gap until the ambulance arrives.
It is the egos of elected officials that will keep this whole tri cities idea from ever happening, you give the firefighters credit for too much power.

newspaperlawyer

Oh really.... Well your wrong on many accounts. Many of the fire department think they are untouchable. If we talk about mandated services then the only thing that a fire department is required by state statue is to provide "fire" fighting services. Their is nothing in the Michigan statue that states they are to be involved in medical services, scuba diving rescues or many other service which they have taken on their on accord. I would say the real answer would be for a county funded fire and police service verses separate departments in the twps. If the cities want to fund additional services then they can tax those residences for those services. Most tax payers already pay for police services in the townships with county and state tax dollars. If I recall right several years back the Public Safety Director Bob Huft tried to do this the same thing. But after a costly and timely review the committee came back with recommendations of the Sheriff taking over police services for several of the smaller police agencies which Grand Haven City, Ferrysburg City and Spring Lake Village. The question I would like the answer is what happen to the talks between the Ottawa County Sheriff and Spring Lake/Ferrysburg a few years ago. So lets look at this. Grand Haven City told the tax payers that the services would not change when they went to public safety. Lets look at the costs, wages, budget from then to now. and now the man power. Years ago the Grand Haven Fire Department had no issue with fighting a residential fire with their own staff of FT firefighters and Volunteers. Now GH City can't fight most fires without calling Grand Haven Twp in for assistance with man power. That is NOT how the mutual aid agreements were intended to be used either. These unnecessary costs are costing the tax payers huge amounts of money. I say lets look at total picture and stop duplicating the services,trucks and equipment.

twpresident

newspaperlawyer, What is your problem with public safety agencies? Looking back on your history of commenting on the tribune's website you seldom miss an opportunity to bash any public safety, fire, police or EMS agency out there. I remember not to long ago when GHDPS was dealing with some break ins on the Northeast side of town you were commenting about how incomptent the public safety officers were in Grand Haven. What gives? Were you pulled over one to many times? Did your house burn down or something? Is that why you are always bashing fire departments? I for one am sick and tired of it. As a individual who has worked in EMS in this area and around West Michigan for some time I have come to know several of these personnel from around the area and with few exceptions the personnel who fill the ranks of the local police, fire and EMS agencies are top notch. You mention GH city public safety's inability to fight there own fires several times in more than one article. I strongly disagree that they cannot do it on there own. The reason they use mutual and automatic aid is becuase everyone does that is progressive. Listen to a scanner. Everytime Spring Lake, Ferrysburg or Crockery Twp. get a structure fire all the others automatically go becuase it is more efficient and brings help to the scene faster which can help save lives and property. You seem to suggest that fire departments shouldn't get into other business besides fire. Well here is news for you, it is 2013 and fire departments have been doing many of these things since the early 1900's. I for one am glad as a paramedic that these personnel are there to help us. They fill a critical void in the community. I have worked for several EMS agencies and none of them would be able to function at a high level without fire department and police department assistance. We all work together as a TEAM. You sound like someone who should live in the 1800's. If you want to go back to the way it was remember that EMS used to be run by the funeral homes. Yeah, let's go back to those days. Anyway, I am done with my rant for now. I sincerly hope that nobody that reads these comments takes you seriously becuase you clearly are a bitter, disgruntled old man. Why don't you have the stones to tell us who you really are.

newspaperlawyer

I certainly don't see your named signed at the bottom. I just state what I have be told from other public safety officers in the field. You are missing the the real issue here. You can't beat down ones body for 25 years or more and expect to retire doing all these jobs into one. This is all about the money... what are the people willing to pay for. Something has to give with this professions. Your body just can't take it for the normal public safety retirement. So maybe they are going to increase the pension plan or decrease the years of serviced needed to receive you pension. I highly doubt that seeing the trend now is to cut cost in benefit packages... See I remember the days when they had 4-5 officers on the street along with a 5 man crew in the fire department, 2-3 additional sleepins at the station during times when most larger and residential fires occurred at night, and 10-15 volunteers that would get called out if needed. I can tell you that maybe 2-3 times a year would a mutual aid call go out. This all comes down to what level of service the tax payers wants to pay for. See Grand Haven City can afford to take police cars out of the city for mutual aid fire or police calls due to the numbers of officers on the street. Lets look at numbers that have been cut in personnel since the start of public safety. normally less cops on the street and one guy bringing a truck to the scene of a fire. This all comes down to smoking mirrors and cutting cost... in the public safety areas. But the taxes keep going up and services getting cut. maybe they need to cut wages or benefit packages first like the school teachers have done. Remember the governor wants to add 6.5 million dollars into the Michigan State Police Budget and increase staffing levels. I laugh all the time when people voice their opinions on whether the sheriff department should cut the road patrol cause its not state mandated. But when you really look at the total picture who really provides the proper level of service to the tax payers for less, its usually the county sheriff. They have the same county funded road patrol levels of staff since 1990's. I don't think the tax payers have problem paying for the service as long they know they are getting the services. So maybe a public safety mileage is in order now. Then we will know that the City Managers and TWP managers are giving the true monies to those department instead of giving out false statements and data... or paying for the US-31/Jackson St and condo project disaster lies.

Anti-newspaperlawyer

Hey lawyer do you believe in karma? I hope so.. But i think you should get your facts a little more or pay for a company to do your research for you. All public safety depts. rather it be fire or police always have room for better service. But what is out there right now is better than what was there 10 yrs ago.
You say you talk to police or fire personal to get your info , but it sounds you listen to what you want to hear. I do have a question for you. Gave you tried to get in a fire or police dept. and denied or was let go from a dept? Is that why you are negative to these professionals in this line of work?

newspaperlawyer

Holy Cow.... Wrong on all accounts... Please expand... enlighten me... Lets see.. if I recall right the City of Grand Haven was to have a independent study 10 and 20 years after the start of public safety.

newspaperlawyer

But maybe you were in diapers yet when Grand Haven City started the Public Safety Service.

Anti-newspaperlawyer

ok so explain youself and these are your quotes ...1)who's toes providers stepped on 2)why you think this area has an huge EGO problem. 3)how do you figure area fire departments are untouchable? explain.. 4)how do you determine how mutual agreements are suppose to work?? as far as I can see is to call for help with all resorces until that person can decide to call the additional help off. 5) how do figure it costs tax payers HUGE amount of monies??? 5) Explain STOP duplicating services. 6)you say and I quote " its ok to be a volunteer firefighter at gh twp. and get a retirement and make 25-30 hrs as a second job.most of the pso and firefighters are double dipping the retirement system in the tri-city area." end quote.. really last time I looked there is no retirment plan or pension for volunteer status at gh twp. most of the staff there do it for there community and the commroditity among them and the pride. the last time i knew there is only a select few that are willing to protect the life and property of the community knowing the risks involvled.
you say every officer and fireman is out of compliance with not carrying medical gear in there vehicle? wrong answer bub. when the officer or fireman shows up to the call they know that there is a medical truck coming from there respective department along behind a ambulance.
but it is obvious with adoubt the tax payers of weather its the city or twps they voted yes to pay for the service that is provided. room for improvement ?? with adoubt yes. look at GHtwp. going from first responder to Advanse life support w/o transport. Now with out getting your panties in abunch could the city do it ?? perhaps... with the right stratigic planning and the right guidance from the fellow depts. and surronding twps. of coarse they could!
So hope with that ... explain yourself! stop bashing.. perhaps one day we will cross paths and you will be seeing myself and my fellow comrades helping you in a medical need or saving your home and property and that is my choice. with all negativity comments from you I respect your opinion because you have that right. if you have to ever call 911 for a medical emergency or fire yes myself and fellow commrades will come to help with all gear,equipment and personal needed. as you can see I am A Firefighter /EMT.

newspaperlawyer

Anti-newspaperlawyer... now your really showing your age and who you really are. why don't you change your diaper....I'm thinking a little "anti-twp resident" is in order...

 

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