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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Stretched thin

Here's an interesting experiment in cross-training:

In one Indiana town, cops are being trained to fight fires and firefighters will be arresting and cuffing bad guys.

Tonight, the first class of cross-trained responders in Whitestown will raise their right hands, according to WISHTV.com.

A strained public safety budget forced the town to get creative, officials say.

“It’s just a matter of changing roles if they pull up in the middle of the night and there is a residence and there is smoke showing. They are going to be popping their police gear gun belts off, stepping into their fire gear and taking on that role,” Whitestown Police Chief Dennis Anderson told reporters.

I know a lot of Hoosier cities have "strained budgets," but I'm not sure this is the best solution. Police work and firefighting are highly specific and dangerous functions. Is it really wise to put so much on these people's plates? I can see given both sets of public safety personnel some extra training so they can help each other out in case of an emergency. That would actually enhance public safety. But if these men and women are trained from the outset to fill both roles all the time, I think Whitestown might become a dangerous place.