Source: Leonard Matarese, Kenneth Chelst, Gayle Fisher-Stewart, and Albert Pearsall, Public Management, Vol. 89 no. 4, May 2007
More than 15 years ago, authors Kenneth Chelst and Leonard Matarese described in an ICMA report the efficiencies and successes gained by the consolidation of police and fire departments. They defined the issues surrounding a police-fire merger, identified the key decisions that had to be made, developed a process to assess and overcome environmental barriers to a merger and presented a mathematical model for predicting the impact on costs and performance of a proposed police-fire merger. Specifically, they were addressing mergers where police officers and firefighters routinely worked together, rather than just administrative consolidations. Yet, in a post-9/11 environment, does consolidation continue to make sense? Is it an efficient use of human and financial resources? As this “age of terrorism” forces local governments to assess issues of interoperability and emergency management, while still competing for scarce resources, should emergency response organizations become combined under one public safety umbrella?