One Man to Head Jackson's Police and Fire Departments

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Running one department that protects and serves the citizens is pretty demanding. Now, double those duties.

It will just be something Jackson's Chief of Police and acting Chief of the Fire Department Matthew Heins will have to deal with when the City Council votes to make the change official Tuesday night.

"It's been challenging, and demanding from a time stand-point," said Heins.

It's not his preferred way to go, but he says he'll do well overseeing both positions: "It's functioned well. I've been well received at the fire department," and he even took some extra training to prepare himself, not required by the city.

"I did attend the fire academy early on so I could have a better understanding of the job requirements of a firefighter. It certainly doesn't give me a deep understanding, but it definitely gives me a cursory understanding."

Jackson's last Fire Chief left in January 2011. That's when Chief Heins took over the position unofficially. Ever since, the City Council has been keeping track of his progress.

"It has been working, and I think it will continue to work," said Jackson City Councilman Derek Dobies, but he says, there's still room for change if the consolidation doesn't continue to work.

"We're doing what we can to cut costs and consolidate different departments, and make sure that the city is fiscally healthy," adding that this does not mean any cuts will be made at this time.

All while Chief Heins, very likely the new "Director," is just glad a decision will be made: "It's good to finally see they're taking steps in a direction instead of being in limbo." Even though he will not be getting a raise.

City Council tried this before in the 1970's, but it didn't work very well. The Police Chief quit after only one year of heading both departments, and the city went back to having two chiefs again.

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