SECTION 1. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, there shall be a special commission to study the feasibility and practicality of authorizing municipalities of the commonwealth to merge their police and fire departments into single cohesive public safety agencies, under a unified command structure, while maintaining proper emergency services which will enable cities and towns to continue operations smoothly and more efficiently after police and fire unification.
The commission shall consist of 13 members; the lieutenant governor of the commonwealth, who shall chair the commission; 4 members of the senate, 3 of whom shall be appointed by the senate president, 1 of which shall be a member of the committee on public safety and 1 of which shall be a member of the committee on municipalities & regional government, and 1 of whom shall be appointed by the senate minority leader; 4 members of the house of representatives, 3 of whom shall be appointed by the speaker of the house, 1 of which shall be a member of the committee on public safety and 1 of which shall be a member of the committee on municipalities & regional government, and 1 of whom shall be appointed by the house minority leader; the secretary of the executive office of public safety or his designee; and 1 member appointed by each of the following organizations: the Massachusetts municipal association, the Massachusetts association of police chiefs, and the Massachusetts firefighter’s association.
The scope of the commission’s inquiry shall include, but not be limited to:
1. Assessing existing fire and police recruit training programs and identifying ways in which new recruits could be cross- trained to take on both the roles of police officers and firefighters
2. Identifying cost efficiencies and savings of merging police and fire departments under single unified command structures, including salary, pension, and healthcare cost savings
3. Identifying logistical problems associated with merging police and fire departments, and possible solutions to those problems
4. Identifying current legal and political impediments to the merging of police and fire departments, and possible solutions to those impediments
5. Analyzing any impact on emergency services posed by merging police and fire departments, and possible solutions to overcome those impacts
6. Identifying any other incentives and disadvantages to merging police and fire departments
7. Recommending legislation that will promote and provide municipalities the authority to effectively merge police and fire departments, if they so choose, while maintaining effective emergency services under a unified department and command
8. Creating a report that contains the result of its investigation, including any recommendations that could be used as a framework for legislation necessary to carry out each recommendation accompanied with an explanation of the legislative intent of each draft proposal.
The commission shall submit its report and findings, along with any drafts of legislation, to the governor, the joint committee on municipalities and regional government, the joint committee on public safety and homeland security, the office of the senate president, the office of the senate minority leader, the office of the speaker of the house of representatives, the office of the house minority leader, and the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate not later than January 31, 2012.
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