Excerpts from the NorthwestIndianaTimes.com:

The city is expected to follow the lead of other cities like Benton Harbor, Mich., in cross-training police and firefighters.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, who spoke about the proposal at Tuesday’s Finance Committee meeting, said the idea could help hold down costs while providing more of a police presence on the streets.¬†The incentive for public safety officers to acquire such skills would be an increase in pay as well as a chance to increase their marketability, she said.

The city’s proposed budget for next year already calls for a $5,000 increase in pay for police and firefighters. This follows an earlier $2,500 increase approved for the current year and the mayor is proposing another $2,500 increase for 2017.

With the proposed raise for next year, patrol officers would see their pay increase from $41,804 to $46,804. As a public safety officer trained in both police and firefighting skills, a person would be paid more than $50,000. Cost savings, she said, would come from needing fewer people overall in the two departments.

Freeman-Wilson thought it might be next year before the city would see its first public safety officers and indicated there would always be those who want to do one job or the other and not both.

… with the possibility of other cities luring public safety officers away once they complete their training in Gary, the mayor said that at one time the city required officers to have to pay back the cost of their training if they did not serve three years with the city, and the administration is looking into the possibility of re-instituting such a policy.

thanks Dan

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