How Does a DPS System Work?

Highland Park Department of Public Safety

Most local jurisdictions (towns, cities and counties), and special districts (schools and hospitals) have the umbrella configuration in which the DPS is simply a joint administration of several distinct agencies. They may share administrative support staff and back-office functions, but sworn personnel remain specialized and have particular responsibilities (that is, the police continue to arrest people and the firefighters concentrate on firefighting and EMS functions).

However, a minority of jurisdictions have a Department of Public Safety model which provide primary and direct responsibility for all emergencies. In these unique organizations, all full-time sworn personnel are cross-trained as police officers, firefighters and/or EMTs, and can respond to emergencies in any capacity. Although it is more expensive to hire, train, and retain such personnel, they have a clear advantage in terms of their flexibility. Public Safety Officers can respond as first responders to many rapidly evolving situations rather than waiting for the arrival of other specialized personnel.