Public safety is the number-one “general function” expenditure category (utilities are not considered a “general function”), with nearly $1 billion spent in FY 2017. Public safety costs include police, fire, ambulance, corrections, inspection and code enforcement activities, dispatch (such as 911) and any other activity that promotes the protection of life and property. Hazardous duty retirement through the County Employees Retirement System (CERS) and other employee benefit costs for public safety personnel are included.
Several mandates exist related to public safety organization and personnel. These mandates are largely tied to classification and deal with work schedules, collective bargaining, merit systems, jurisdiction and others. However, with the exception of former second and third class cities, the requirement to maintain municipal fire and police departments is entirely optional.