OAKWOOD, OH – The city of Oakwood’s police union has filed an unfair labor practice charge against Oakwood following the city’s new mutual aid agreement with the city of Kettering.
In a media release sent out earlier this week, Bruce Upchurch, president of the Oakwood FOP Lodge 107, said the city of Oakwood advised its public safety officers last week of the new “Automatic Mutual Aid Response (AMARS) Agreement.”
Upchurch says the agreement, which goes into effect this week, will require Oakwood to send a fire apparatus with three public safety officers as a first response to four mapped zones in the city of Kettering.
“We see this as a security issue, a safety issue,” Upchurch said. “If you take three of our officers out of the city for any extended period of time, that leaves us with very little police coverage, no EMS coverage and no fire coverage.”
Chief Alex Bebris, public safety director for Oakwood, said in a statement the new mutual aid agreement with Kettering “continues a longstanding practice of the two communities supporting each other in the case of public safety emergencies.”
“Sometimes people are fearful,” Bebris said. “They see it as being new. … And there’s just a little bit of apprehension about that, but we’ll work through that and get through that.”
Bebris said the two cities have provided each other mutual aid for decades and have had a mutual aid agreement since 1989. The agreement allows the Oakwood public safety department to determine if any officers are available to assist Kettering.
It also allows the two cities to share technology.
“Provisions in the new mutual aid agreement simply change the process in which Oakwood and Kettering provide mutual aid to each other,” Bebris said.
Upchurch said the Oakwood public safety officers that are a part of FOP Lodge 107 have filed an unfair labor practice charge against the city in an effort to “preserve the current quality of services they provide to the citizens and more importantly to protect the safety of the citizens and officers which this agreement blatantly neglects.”
Upchurch said the city of Oakwood is often left with one officer and one lieutenant to cover police, fire and EMS services.
“We are concerned about the safety of our residents because this would not be enough manpower to eliminate a small house fire or even transport a patient to the hospital,” Upchurch said in a release.
In 2015, Oakwood responded to 54 mutual aid calls into the city of Kettering, according to Bebris. He said the rate is expected to stay on a similar level under the new agreement.
“Each of our agencies has an understanding that if we’re busy doing something for our own community, we’re obviously not in a position to help you out,” Bebris said. “It’s going to be very fluid as far as when we’ll be available and not available, but our first priority here in Oakwood is the protection of Oakwood and responding to Oakwood calls and there will be no change in that.”
Neither city will be billed, and there is no financial impact.
“We’re not a fire department,” Upchurch said. “We’re not a police department. We’re a public safety department, and because of that we service these citizens with police, fire and emergency medical services.”