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  • Difference between Public Safety Officers and Police Officers

    Hi,
    I tried to ask this question a different way and got no response, so I'm going to try it again. I'm nothing if not tenacious and persistent.

    I'm interviewing on Tuesday for a Public Safety Officer position - they would put me through fire academy if hired on.

    Why would a department consolidate like this? Any opinions one way or the other? I have been asked by numerous family members and don't really have a good answer for them. The dept. is 70 sworn officers with a city size of around 30,000 in a 'burb of Detroit.

    Thanks!

    Sherri

  • #2

    It is going to vary from state to state (and probably from county to county). If you are in Texas, all of the {DPS} state troopers are "public safety" officers (if memory serves me correctly). Arizona troopers have "Department of Public Safety" - or something like that - printed on their patrol cars.

    Now, in other locations, "public safety" could encompass everyone from the animal control officer to the local school crossing guard. Some may have limited arrest powers - or maybe no powers at all, while others are basically full-blown, sworn officers. Some will be unarmed, civilian postions, while others will encompass many types of real 'police' duties; again, it varies by location.

    Any law enforcement officer with arrest powers who is employed in the Commonwealth of Virginia will have the state seal on his or her badge. This includes state police troopers, county & city sheriff's deputies, police officers, game wardens, ABC (alcohol & liquor) agents and even fire marshals and some corrections officers/prison guards. Heck, I probably omitted a few others......but your state may be much different.

    When you say that they'll put you through the "fire" academy, that is a clear indication that you'll be performing a job necessary or vital to 'public safety' in Michigan. However, is it an actual career path - or just a stepping stone to a law enforcement position where you'll be able to attend another academy later?

    I say take the job -- even if it is with fire or EMS. Work for the municipal government, do it well, prove yourself and then you'll have your foot in the door if you decide that you still want to be a cop and enroll in a police academy sometime in the future. Most of the folks in fire & EMS are some of the best high-speed, low-drag people you will ever meet. Also, they are often the ones who will save your arse if you are a cop and need some urgent care. Wear an EMS uniform for awhile and the cop uniform will look even better on you down the road. You'll gain the respect of both groups of people - and respect is certainly something you never can have too much of.

    Best of luck to you!!!!


    Last edited by VA Dutch; 06-17-2006, 02:18 PM.

    The comments above reflect my personal opinion as a private citizen, ordinary motorist and all-around good guy.

    The aforementioned advice should not be construed to represent any type of professional opinion, legal counsel or other type of instruction with regard to traffic laws, judicial proceedings or official agency policy.

    ------------------------------------------------

    "Ignorance on fire is hotter than knowledge on ice."

    Comment


    • #3
      In Missouri, Public Safety Officers are LEOs/Firefighters/EMS or a combo there of.

      My hometown has PSOs. They are primarily LEOs but if a fire call goes out, they are supposed to respond on/off duty unless they are out of town.....

      Comment


      • #4
        A friend of mine just accepted a job in North Carolina, small town don't remember the name. He will be classified as a Public Safety Officer, primary leo and also crosstrained as Fireman. As he tells me, all LEO in the city are crosstrained so as to handle both emergencies. He will be carrying fireman gear in the trunk of his patrol car. I guess it could just be a play on wording depending on what state your in.

        Comment


        • #5
          Was the NC town Morganton?

          Comment


          • #6
            Public Safety and Police Officers

            The State of Alabama has a Department of Public Safety. It is strictly a law enforcement agency. It consists of six divisions, all of which have arresting(commissioned) officers. The divisions are Administrative, Service, Protective Services, Driver's License, Alabama Bureau of Investigation and Highway Patrol.Many municipalities across the country have Public Safety Departments.In these instances, police and fire personnel are cross trained, and perform both functions. DFW Airport in Texas has a DPS. I guess a basic rule would be, if it's a state DPS, Alabama, Arizona, Texas etc, it will be law enforcement. At local level, it could be both police and fire.

            Comment


            • #7
              Been there, done that...

              Personal opinion - it ultimately should be;
              If you want to be a fireman, be a fireman...
              if you want to be a paramedic, be a medic...
              If you want to be a police officer, be an officer...

              Being a jack of all trades is fine, just master one!!

              Comment


              • #8
                Thank you for the explanations! I'm putting myself through police academy (pretty much the standard now in Michigan since agencies will rarely put you through) starting in August. The dep't I'm interviewing with on Tuesday does require cross-trained officers.

                Here's what their website says:


                The City of Oak Park is located near the southeast corner of Oakland County, contains approximately 5.5 square miles with a population of 29,793 as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Census for 2000. The Department of Public Safety is a consolidated Police and Fire Department. All officers are cross-trained and perform both functions. The Department has seventy sworn Officers and fourteen civilian employees.

                The Department of Public Safety seeks to promote safety through citizen outreach. Here residents will find information and resources that encourage them to take an active role in protecting themselves and their neighbors' property.

                The Department of Public Safety is located in City Hall on Oak Park Boulevard. There are 70 full-time officers, who are cross-trained as both police officers and fire fighters. Duties of each discipline are performed by all officers. The Department has 11 police-marked patrol units, and four fire trucks. The Emergency Services Council, a nine-person committee made up of four citizens, a City Council Representative, the Director of Public Information, Director of Public Safety, Director of Public Works, and the Emergency Services Coordinator, meet once a month to discuss policy and formulate recommendations regarding emergency services that are passed on to the City Council.

                The Public Safety Department responds to more than 21,000 calls each year, including police, fire and emergency medical.

                The City participates in both police and fire mutual aid, which provides additional assistance to/from surrounding communities in the event of a major emergency or a shortage of equipment or personnel.



                Applicants must be able to successfully complete the required police-training curriculum at a MCOLES police academy and be deemed certifiable upon graduation. Preference will be given to applicants who have graduated from or are currently attending a MCOLES police academy.
                Applicants must have the ability to successfully complete the basic fire-training curriculum at a Firefighter Training Council approved school, and successfully attain Firefighters Level II certification.

                Benefits:

                The special status of serving in one of the most respected consolidated Police-Fire-EMS agencies in the country.

                The capacity to continuously develop, refine and implement a unique combination of professional skills: Major Crimes Task Force; Evidence Technician; Bicycle Unit; Special Response Team; Crisis Negotiators; Field Training Officers; School Liaison Unit; and Motorcycle Unit.



                Just to attribute my source and not violate copyright infringement - the preceding was taken from their website, http://www.oakpark-mi.com

                Sorry, journalism major from college. Gotta do it.

                Thanks!

                Sherri

                Comment


                • #9
                  California has several public safety departments. Two I can think of offhand are Rohnert Park and Sunnyvale, which are north and south of San Francisco, respectively. Because there are generally no independent fire service academies the way that there are police academies, the agencies will train you for firefighter duties once you are hired. Most officers gravitate toward one specialty or the other, and gain their expertise as either a cop or a firefighter, with the ability to revert to the other role as required. A big plus is that you have more career paths that you can follow. If you get burned out on being a cop, you can try and switch to a fire service-oriented assignment. The idea behind PSDs is that they have a paid and professionally trained reserve force to call on when needed, e.g. the cops become firefighters if there's a big fire, and the firefighters become cops when there's a big event that needs crowd control. The officers I have known that worked for PSDs enjoyed the variation in duties, and I haven't known any that left for another solely police or fire agency.
                  Tim Dees, now writing as a plain old forum member, his superpowers lost to an encounter with gold kryptonite.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SRT Sniper
                    Been there, done that...

                    Personal opinion - it ultimately should be;
                    If you want to be a fireman, be a fireman...
                    if you want to be a paramedic, be a medic...
                    If you want to be a police officer, be an officer...

                    Being a jack of all trades is fine, just master one!!
                    My dept is public safety at a decent size airport. We have 67 commissioned officers who are all cross-trained as FF's. 1/3 of us are licensed EMTs/IV's.

                    In the law enforcement aspect, I am BAT certified (DUI enforcement), crime scene technician, and IPMBA Bike certified. I take the LE side very seriously (also an FTO). On the same token, I am a BLS/First Responder Instructor for my dept and oversee everything medical that happens on our property. About 20% of our call volume are medical calls (over 400 annually).

                    I love the job because I get to do every aspect of public safety (Police/Fire/EMS). Of course, that's just me. There are definitely folks here that are better on the LE side than Fire/EMS and vice-versa.

                    The only issue I see with my dept is that they have a tendency to hire people to fill a police uniform and don't stress enough the importance of the FF/EMS aspect. We have not had a significant commercial aircraft crash here and I'm worried that the sh** will hit the fan when it finally comes.
                    I'm 10-8 like a shark in a sea of crime..

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      popo-
                      Not to say anything bad about them, but I know of several tales of woe out of that department. Rumor, and it is about 7th hand, is that they like to hire and fire just to keep salary down. Do not know if it is true, just know I do not like what I hear about how that place is run. Good luck.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Tim Dees
                        California has several public safety departments. Two I can think of offhand are Rohnert Park and Sunnyvale, which are north and south of San Francisco, respectively. Because there are generally no independent fire service academies the way that there are police academies, the agencies will train you for firefighter duties once you are hired. Most officers gravitate toward one specialty or the other, and gain their expertise as either a cop or a firefighter, with the ability to revert to the other role as required. A big plus is that you have more career paths that you can follow. If you get burned out on being a cop, you can try and switch to a fire service-oriented assignment. The idea behind PSDs is that they have a paid and professionally trained reserve force to call on when needed, e.g. the cops become firefighters if there's a big fire, and the firefighters become cops when there's a big event that needs crowd control. The officers I have known that worked for PSDs enjoyed the variation in duties, and I haven't known any that left for another solely police or fire agency.
                        Tim,
                        I agree there are some good points with having multiple career paths, and firefighters are cool people too - usually, but you now know at least one who left a PSD to be solely police.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I forgot, I also wanted to respond to SgtScott...
                          I think it's great for you guys who really like the variety. It just isn't my preference... I enjoyed firefighting to some extent and still keep up on EMS stuff when feasible, but I wanted my Real job to be strictly LE (although some EMS-First Responder service is part of LE, ie accidents, etc. until the real guys arrive. )

                          I have nothing against it, it just isn't for me.. I would rather stick with LE and specialize in that scope of things, and feel that you get better at what you focus on.

                          Be Safe!!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Why would a jurisdiction do it? It's all about money. Personnel can be cross-assigned, and you don't need several administrators doing the same basic job.
                            Three Stripes beats Four Aces.
                            Retirement: You've Won the War when you're Paid to Stay at Home.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by 1oldsarge
                              Why would a jurisdiction do it? It's all about money. Personnel can be cross-assigned, and you don't need several administrators doing the same basic job.
                              I understand that aspect Sarge, but I don't personally believe that it does anything to enhance the service quality to the public, if anything, my personal opinion is that it detracts from the service quality as officers or firefighters do not have the opportunity to focus as much on their preferred career path. Thus they are at a disadvantage with such a wide spectrum of training requirements and could become more proficient/knowledgable in their respective service sector with the appropriate career development focus.

                              I also don't believe having the same command administration for both is smart either... I mean, yes it's all emergency public service, but there are a lot of differences between Fire/EMS and LE in the way things have to be done.

                              Comment

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