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City to consider consolidating police and fire services in July 18 meeting | Crime

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City to consider consolidating police and fire services in July 18 meeting
City to consider consolidating police and fire services in July 18 meeting

Wyoming, Kentwood and Grand Rapids city leaders will hold a special meeting Thursday, July 18 to consider moving forward with a proposal to consolidate police and fire services.

Council and commission members from all three cities will review ICMA Consulting Service’s study and recommendations about consolidation.  The report’s executive summary concludes consolidation is the best alternative to improve service and save more than $13 million annually.  It also recommends:

  • Making a privately contracted ambulance service the responding agent to all medical calls except the most serious ones.
  • Reducing the number of fire stations in all three cities to 16, with 12 traditional stations and four stations that are staffed only during peak call times.
  • Considering using part-time firefighters for more flexibility at less cost.
  • Creating the West Michigan Fire Rescue Authority to oversee the consolidated fire department.  The three-person board would consist of one elected official from each city.  The Fire Authority would pick the fire chief.
  • Reducing the number of police investigative/vice positions from a total of 106 to 54.
  • Retaining and modifying the Grand Rapids Police Department facility as headquarters for the consolidated department and use either the Kentwood or Wyoming police facility as an outpost of sorts.
  • Establishing a police commission to oversee the consolidated group. Each community would be represented by three commissioners appointed by their respective mayor for a three-year term.

The ICMA says thinning the fire department workforce should happen only through attrition, not layoffs.  The consulting group also says if the communities opt to not consolidate any services, The City of Wyoming should still look into the possibility of merging their police and fire departments into a public safety department.

Grand Rapids and Wyoming began exploring possible consolidation in 2009.  The City of Kentwood later joined the effort.

In a resolution up for consideration Thursday, city leaders will consider taking public comment on the proposal until November 30, 2013, and establishing a Police Exploration Work Group, Fire Exploration Work Group and a Joint Steering Committee to come up with a consolidation recommendation, which will be presented in January 2014.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. inside the Wyoming City Council Chambers, located at 1155 28th St. SW.