Open House Will Celebrate 32 Years of a Consolidated Public Safety Department
The City of East Grand Rapids Public Safety Department will host a community open house on Saturday, Oct. 28.
The event will be held 10 a.m. to noon at the Public Safety Department, 770 Lakeside Drive SE. The community is invited to come meet and greet Public Safety Director Mark Herald the rest of the Public Safety Department as well as check out a police cruiser and fire engine, get tips on how to keep your family safe as part of National Fire Prevention Month and enjoy free donuts and cider.
“We hope the community will come down to meet the men and woman charged with protecting them,” Chief Mark Herald said. “We have an excellent department that is committed to keeping our community safe.”
The open house comes as the department is celebrating its 32nd year as a consolidated public safety department. Under this model, all East Grand Rapids public safety officers are fully cross-trained as police officers, firefighters and medical first responders. The department has 28 sworn officers – one director, two captains, six sergeants and 19 public safety officers – who operate under an integrated administrative command staff led by the director. That is down from a total of 40 police officers and firefighters when there were separate departments.
Merged police and fire administrations are rare – only about 130 out of 18,000 agencies in the U.S. have done this. Even fewer cities have public safety departments with officers who are fully cross-trained in police and fire. As a result, East Grand Rapids has served as a model for other cities considering merging police and fire services. Herald routinely talks with leaders from other municipalities and provides valuable insight into the benefits of consolidation.
For East Grand Rapids, the benefits of having a Public Safety Department include:
- Faster and more efficient police, fire and medical services – East Grand Rapids has the fastest response time in Kent County for all calls
- Annual savings of more than $1.2 million due to 30 percent fewer sworn personnel compared to having separate police and fire departments
- Cross-trained officers who can immediately assess an incident for essential services and prevent the unnecessary dispatch of expensive equipment and personnel
- Unified command structure at critical incidents
- Improved prevention programs such as community policing and fire and crime prevention due to more personnel in patrol and inspection duties
- Reduction in duplication of administrative functions
- Increased morale among personnel due to a more diverse and challenging work environment
The East Grand Rapids Public Safety Department responded to 5,518 calls for service in 2016. Of those, 5,057 were for police services, 266 for medical and 195 for fire.