Police and firefighters across the nation are leading campaigns against rules that require them and other municipal employees to live in the cities where they work, USA Today reports. Residency requirements for public safety workers long have been viewed as an effective way to help make communities safe and economically stable. There is growing concern that the laws make it too difficult for urban public safety agencies to recruit and retain officers.
In Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Louisiana, and elsewhere, residency laws are under assault by critics who say patrol cops and their families sometimes face a difficult choice: Live in high-income neighborhoods they can’t afford or in low-income areas that can be home to poor schools. Police unions in Cleveland and Akron have joined lawsuits aimed at easing residency requirements. They say the rules can put officers at risk by forcing them to live near people they investigate. Washington, D.C., has stopped requiring officers to live within 25 miles of the Capitol. Officers in Washington – where the starting police salary is $44,611 – had to live in D.C., where the median home price is $443,000, or one of its close-in Maryland or Virginia suburbs. The new policy allows officers to live in more affordable suburbs farther out.