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Posted: July 19, 2012 10:23 p.m.

Officials approve public safety split

Social Circle Council members approved the splitting of the Department of Public Safety into two divisions-police and fire- at Tuesday night's meeting.

The separation would eliminate Tom Fox's position as director of public safety and leave the police and fire departments to have their own individual chiefs.

The decision was made after the council spent months of deliberating over structure of the department.

"The experiment of a unified department looks good on paper, but we felt the combined departments had run its course," said Mayor Hal Dally. "We've had it this way for the past four or five years and in some municipalities it works, but in a lot of mindsets it doesn't seem to here.

The city will continue to pay for cross training of firefighters and police officers, and those employees who complete the training or renew their certification will receive pay increases, he said.

Three restructuring options for the public safety department were presented to the council in June, according to a previous Covington News article. The first option was to place a lieutenant over the police and fire divisions, keeping the Department of Public Safety whole. The second option was split the police and fire divisions, putting a chief over each department. The third option was to separate the police and fire employees into three teams, which would each work 24-hour shifts on a rotating basis.

The decision will go into effect on or before Sept. 15.

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