Department of Public Safety

In the United States, a department of Public Safety is a state or local government agency which often has a broad portfolio of responsibilities, which may include some or all of the following:

The branch of government department of public safety is the executive branch.

These responsibilities are usually organized into separate agencies under a DPS due to their diversity, though there is a critical exception in certain local jurisdictions (as further explained below).

In other countries, equivalent agencies may be known as the Ministry of the Interior. In U.S. state or local governments that do not have a DPS, equivalent agencies may be known as the Department of Emergency Services.

United States

Federal level

The United States Department of Homeland Security is the federal-level department of public safety of the United States, which is responsible for federal supervision of emergency services for major disasters through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

State and territorial level

In state governments in the United States, the DPS is often a law enforcement agency synonymous with the state police. At local and special district levels, they may be all-encompassing. Examples of states having these include Texas, Minnesota, Tennessee, Arizona, Alabama, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. In many states the state police may be a subdivision of the DPS and not its own independent department.

List of state and territorial Departments of Public Safety

Local level

Many local jurisdictions (cities and counties), and special districts (schools and hospitals) have the umbrella configuration described above, in which the DPS is simply a joint administration of several distinct agencies. They may share administrative support staff and back-office functions, but sworn personnel remain specialized and have particular responsibilities (that is, the police continue to arrest people and the firefighters put out fires). The DPS of Cobb County, Georgia is one example.

However, a minority of jurisdictions have Departments of Public Safety which have primary and direct responsibility for all emergencies. In these unusual organizations, all full-time sworn personnel are cross-trained as police officers, firefighters and/or EMTs, and can respond to emergencies in any capacity. Although it is more expensive to hire, train and retain such personnel, they have a clear advantage in terms of their flexibility. They can respond as first responders to many rapidly evolving situations rather than waiting for the arrival of other specialized personnel.[1]

This configuration was more widely popular in the 1970s and 1980s in the United States, but has since gone out of style because relatively few cities have been able to execute it successfully because of manpower limitations in handling major incidents.

In a few California cities (the Pasadena-area suburb of Duarte , for example), the Department of Public Safety usually is restricted to code enforcement officers and/or animal control service agents(especially when those cities contract out for law enforcement with the county sheriff's office).

List of cities with Departments of Public Safety with fully cross-trained personnel


  • Chickasaw Department of Public Safety
  • Daleville Department of Public Safety


  • Hoonah Dept. Of Public Safety
  • Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport Department of Public Safety
  • Fairbanks International Airport Department of Public Safety


  • Rohnert Park Dept. Of Public Safety
  • Sunnyvale Department Of Public Safety


  • Daytona Beach Shores Dept. Of Public Safety
  • Indian River Shores Public Safety Dept.
  • Jupiter Island Public Safety Department


  • Aiken Department of Public Safety
  • Bainbridge Department of Public Safety
  • Grovetown Dept of Public Safety
  • Social Circle Department of Public Safety


  • Rosemont Department of Public Safety
  • Glencoe Dept of Public Safety
  • Metropolitan Airport Authority Department of public safety
  • Oak Forest Health Center Department of Public Safety


  • Whitestown Dept of Public Safety
  • Fort Wayne International Airport Dept of Public Safety



  • Augusta Department of Public Safety


  • Prestonsburg Department of Public Safety


  • Albion Department Of Public Safety
  • Berkley Department Of Public Safety
  • Beverly Hills Department of Public Safety
  • Blackman Township Department Of Public Safety
  • Bloomfield Hills Department Of Public Safety
  • Centerline Department Of Public Safety
  • Cheboygan Department Of Public Safety
  • East Grand Rapids Department Of Public Safety
  • Emmett Township Department Of Public Safety
  • Escanaba Department Of Public Safety
  • Essexville Department Of Public Safety
  • Farmington Department Of Public Safety
  • Fraser Department Of Public Safety
  • Gladstone Department Of Public Safety
  • Grand Haven Department Of Public Safety
  • Greenville Department Of Public Safety
  • Grosse Pointe Department Of Public Safety
  • Grosse Pointe Farms Department Of Public Safety
  • Grosse Pointe Park Department Of Public Safety
  • Grosse Pointe Shores Department Of Public Safety
  • Grosse Pointe Woods Police Department
  • Huntington Woods Department Of Public Safety
  • Ionia Department Of Public Safety
  • Ironwood Department Of Public Safety
  • Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety (claims to be the largest with about 380 sworn personnel)
  • Kingsford Department Of Public Safety
  • Manistique Department Of Public Safety
  • Monroe Department of Public Safety
  • Oak Park Department Of Public Safety
  • Petoskey Department Of Public Safety
  • Plainwell Department Of Public Safety
  • Rockford Department Of Public Safety
  • Springfield Department Of Public Safety
  • St. Joseph Department Of Public Safety


  • Mankato Department of Public Safety
  • New Brighton Department of Public Safety
  • Woodbury Department of Public Safety


North Carolina

New Hampshire

  • Waterville Valley Department Of Public Safety

New Mexico

  • Alamogordo Department Of Public Safety
  • Hagerman Department Of Public Safety

New York


  • Grants Pass Dept. Of Public Safety


  • Amberley Village Department of Public Safety
  • Oakwood Police Dept.

South Carolina

  • Aiken Department of Public Safety
  • Cayce Department of Public Safety
  • Clinton Public Safety Department
  • North Augusta Department of Public Safety
  • North Myrtle Beach Dept. Of Public Safety
  • Orangeburg Public Safety
  • Spartanburg Public Safety Department
  • Union Public Safety Department
  • Winnsboro Department of Public Safety


  • Jonesborough Department of Public Safety
  • Kingston Springs Department of Public Safety
  • Lookout Mountain Police and Fire Department
  • Nashville International Airport Department of Public Safety
  • Norris Department of Public Safety
  • Waverly Department of Public Safety


  • Dalworthington Gardens Department of Public Safety
  • Health Department of Public Safety
  • Highland Park Department of Public Safety
  • Oak Point Department of Public Safety
  • Southlake Department Of Public Safety
  • Woodway Public Safety Dept.


  • Ivins Police Department
  • Orem Department Of Public Safety
  • Santa Clara Department of Public Safety


  • Steilacoom Dept. Of Public Safety


  • Ashwaubenon Dept. Of Public Safety

See also


  1. Paul Harlow, "Glencoe's public safety services," Public Management 76, no. 6 (June 1994): 25-27.
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