A disgruntled California employee had sprayed his workplace with gunfire, killing three and wounding six. There weren’t enough patrol officers available to secure the search area. The Los Angeles Times says that commanders in Sunnyvale’s Department of Public Safety were able to do what few across the country can: They called on a fire crew that was coming off duty to switch hats. The two dozen men and women stripped out of their turnouts and reached for their tactical vests, police uniforms, and weapons to join the manhunt.
At a time of budget crises, more cities are eyeing Sunnyvale’s model of cross-training all sworn personnel in police, fire, and emergency medical services. At least 130 now employ some form of public safety consolidation. In Sunnyvale, there is one headquarters, one administration, and one dispatch center, so “everyone speaks the same language,” said Public Safety Chief Frank Grgurina. Although training costs are steep and constant, the blended functions allow Sunnyvale to spend less on public safety than surrounding communities do — $519 per capita compared with $683 in Mountain View and $950 in Palo Alto.