The Cedar Falls Council is discussing the highly controversial Public Safety program where the police and firefighters are cross-trained in each other's profession if they choose. In an article from KWWL, council members talked about whether or not the combined program is working, as is, or if there are needed changes.
Is having PSOs enough for the city of Cedar Falls?
The city started cross-training police officers as firefighters, calling them "Public Safety Officers". Public Safety Director Jeff Olson says, "There are many examples of where it is working, and I just can't think of any offhand where it is not working, it has improved the number of personnel at these scenes." He and Chief of Police, Craig Berte as well as Fire Chief John Bostwick all weighed in on the effectiveness of the program during the Cedar Falls Council meeting, Monday night.
Many of Cedar Falls' citizens do not like the program, citing issues of public safety like a fire or robbery happening at the same time, leaving one of the scenes without or at least not enough officers responding. A very real possibility.
PSOs have ongoing training monthly and yearly. A new hire would take on a lot of training, for both policing and firefighting, right from the start.
This seems like a lot for a newbie to have to experience. At Large City Council member, Kelly Dunn said,
"These are people's lives, and we need to move forward. These jobs are stressful enough, especially when you are short-staffed because of the bigger world that we are living. I don't want to sit there and mess with people's minds like while we play puppet master. If something was not working. I would hope our department leaders would say, 'hey guys, this is not working.' I don't think these guys have malicious intent and their ego so drives them that they can't say this is not working."
To her point, those in favor of the program may not point out issues to the council and Mayor, thinking by doing so, jeopardizes the program.
Read more about the meeting in Cedar Falls and when the public will have a chance to weigh in on the program, HERE.