Lindsay on track to splitting police and fire departments

Lindsay’s public safety department remains on track of separating police and fire services, expects to make concrete steps by August

Lindsay – Lindsay is on track to reorganizing its Public Safety Department into separate police and fire departments, doing away with its current model of public safety officers occupying dual roles as both cops and firefighters. 

The city expects “significant action” to be taken toward the plan by August, said executive projects manager and city clerk Mayra Espinoza-Martinez at a Lindsay city council meeting on Mar. 8. 

“We’re hoping that by August we’ll be able to show some concrete steps that we’ve made toward the plan, but we’re fully on track to meet this,” said Espinoza-Martinez. At least as of now the city is in the process of deciding new job titles and descriptions for the future fire department and budgeting funds for costs like salaries and training gear.

Interim director for public safety, Rob Moore, presented the plan to the Lindsay City Council last month during their Feb. 8 meeting. He cited how expensive it has become to train officers to become firefighters, and how difficult it is to recruit officers out of the academy when they also have to take on fire duties.

Currently, a new recruit in Lindsay would need to be trained as an Emergency Medical Technician and complete a one-on-one certification fire course immediately after finishing their six month police training before qualifying for the fire academy. By the end of this process, a new recruit would need two years of training before walking a single beat. 

“Fire is going to take some time to get up and running because we have some positions to fill,” said city manager Joe Tanner. 

Not only that, but in order to have a fully staffed fire department, the city will need to recruit at least 15 volunteer firefighters. 

“That’s kind of the wildcard in this, is how many volunteers we can get and how quickly,” Tanner said. 

Lindsay is only one of three cities in California attempting to make this type of system work. But because of staffing levels they’ve been largely unsuccessful. The other departments in the state that provide combined police and fire service have sufficient staffing. While the officers are cross trained in both police and fire, when an officer is working as a policeman they do not switch mid-shift if a fire breaks out. Instead the officers that are not working as police work their shift as a fireman.

Lindsay, on the other hand, is impacted by low staffing levels that prevents them from exercising this system as designed. When they began the system in 2011 they had 25 officers, and they only needed 26 to be at full capacity. As of this year the department has only 15 officers and still doing the same dual roles.

Currently, there is no estimate as to when the Public Safety Department will be fully separated. 

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