The economic news coming from cities and counties nationwide is abysmal. With the nation in a deep recession since 2007, some say even larger budget cuts are now reaching public safety agencies. It seems that only one year ago these daily headlines were unheard of: Budget Cuts Reach Public Safety, Fire Department Copes With Budget Cuts And Staff Shortages or Fire Department Cancels Recruit Academy. But today, these and similar headlines are common. Here in San Diego, Police Chief William Lansdowne is predicting a loss of more than 100 sworn officers. As reported in the USA Today, nearly 70% of police agencies have cut back or eliminated training programs this year as part of local government budget reductions (according to a survey this fall of 608 agencies by the Police Executive Research Forum).
Looking for Ways to Reduce Police and Fire Department Costs
Last month the Public Safety Training e-Newsletter featured an article from the Fresno Fire Department outlining their plan to replace sworn training staff with civilian instructors. Since the Fresno article was broadcast in mid-September many newsletter readers have told me similar stories regarding changes to their training departments. Simply doing more with less is the new mantra and it appears to have become the “new normal.” I have spoken to major metropolitan agencies and small rural training departments — all are looking (most forced) to find more efficient ways to deliver training. Apparently even in hard times new visions and ideas can still emerge. Some of the ideas are really exciting and in some cases “out of the box,” such as: consolidation of multiple department training exercises, distance learning technologies, collaboration with community college programs, live podcast training classes, and merging of intra governmental department training classes.