"I think first off, my primary job is to do the best we can to keep firefighters and police officers safe. And that's looking at our staffing, our equipment, our technology.” - Rusty York, New Fort Wayne Director of Public Safety
Former Fort Wayne Police Chief Rusty York is now the city's Director of Public Safety.
Mayor Tom Henry brought back the position in an attempt to stem some of the violence, in what has become one of the city's deadliest years on record.
Tuesday the city council unanimously approved York's promotion.
Henry says by bringing back the position after more than a decade, York can allow the police to focus on police work, and he can help city agencies work together more efficiently.
But some on the city council are apprehensive that spending the extra money is going to put a dent in the city's crime.
New Director of Public Safety Rusty York met with Fire Chief Amy Biggs Tuesday to discuss how the fire department can better work with police and the new 911 communications center.
"I think first off, my primary job is to do the best we can to keep firefighters and police officers safe. And that's looking at our staffing, our equipment, our technology,” York says.
After fourteen years with York as chief of police, the city council approved the new position at Tuesday's meeting.
In the wake of another deadly shooting, York says as public safety director, he can focus on making sure departments are fully funded.
Like a $1.25 million grant he helped get from the U.S. Department of Justice, which allows the department to hire ten new officers.
He says whoever is promoted as the new police chief can work on stopping crime.
"But I think again that just shows how pre-occupied police chiefs are. I mean, it's not just Fort Wayne, it's why New York City has a police commissioner, Indianapolis and many other cities have directors of public safety. Their job every day is to, again, catch the bad guys, work proactively,” York says.
York keeps his current salary- and with promoting a new chief from within and moving others up the ranks, the city's total cost is $55,000.
City Councilmember Mitch Harper originally spoke against the plan a few weeks ago.
At Tuesday's meeting he voted yes, but with reservations.
"I have reservations that this is going to result in any real new approach- creating another administrative level- and i think people are asking for something to be a little firmer in addressing Fort Wayne's crime problem,” Harper says.
The decision is effective immediately, as York has already met with fire officials, and later this week, with Department of Homeland Security officials.
But councilmembers wants results.
And as this is funded in the city's budget for the next two years, we'll see if it all pays off.
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