Fountain Hills has created a seven-member P ublic Safety Commission to educate residents about law enforcement and fire service, and to act as a conduit to the Town Council.
The council approved the commission 4-3 at the March 4 council meeting. Mayor Wally Nichols, Vice Mayor Rick Melendez and Councilman John Kavanagh voted against the resolution.
Kavanagh said he objected to having one commission covering both law enforcement and fire service. Commissioners are not required to have experience in either law enforcement or fire service.
"Police and fire are very different," he said. "I think a commission dealing with both is unworkable."
For example, after 20 years as a police officer, Kavanagh said, "I wouldn’t presume to know anything about fire service."
The commission’s goals are to identify law enforcement issues in the community and provide recommendations to the council and town officials to enhance residents’ safety, according to the resolution.
"The commission is responsible for providing education on the services provided by both law enforcement and our fire department," said Town Manager Tim Pickering.
Prospective members are to be selected from the community and reflect the town’s diversity. Commissioners will be appointed by the mayor and must be approved by the Town Council, the resolution states.
The commission will not deal with the political issue of how emergency services are contracted. Also, the commission will not handle resident complaints; those will be left to the police and fire services, Kavanagh said.
Town officials will search for commissioners over the next few months, Pickering said.