Springfield Twp Trustees discuss options to shrink budget - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Springfield Twp considers combining fire & police dept.

SPRINGFIELD TWP, OH (FOX19) -

A local township is discussing the possibility of replacing firefighters and police with public safety officers.

Springfield Township is looking for ways to adjust to a shrinking budget. As a result, five options are up for consideration for the future of the police and fire department.

Here are the options:

  • Continue to operate at the same level, which would require an increase in taxes.
  • Make cuts in services.
  • Provide service for other communities for a fee.
  • Collaborate with neighboring departments.
  • Internally combine the fire and police departments.

Springfield Township officials say collaborating with a neighboring department or offering services to neighboring departments would require the cooperation of another department, and question if that's even a possibility.

Likewise, township trustees are also asking if the combination of fire and police into one public safety department is the best option.

"There are some larger communities that have done it and done it successfully," said Joe Honerlaw, Springfield Township Trustee.

Kalamazoo, Michigan is the only large city in the region that has a public safety office in place of separate police and fire departments. Locally, Amberely Village is the closest model, and it does not have nearly the volume of people or households to serve.

"We're not seeing a lot of other people look into this, and I'm not really sure why that is, but I think some of that probably has to do with the complexity," said Springfield Township Administrator Mike Hinnenkamp.

Consolidation is not easy.

Officials estimate around $1 million for equipment and training of all officers, as well as planning for how many officers would be needed on duty at any given time. Unlike Amberley Village, where public safety officers have been in place since the beginning, not all Springfield Township officers want to serve both roles.

"With police and firemen, you have two different jobs with sort of, two different psyches. The way a police officer thinks and what might attract him to be a police officer is maybe not the same thing as a fireman," said Honerlaw.

Aside from the transition process and cost, legislation would also need to be changed regarding the pensions of potential public safety officers.

Springfield Township Trustees will vote on how the fire and police will be impacted later this year.

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