After an intense, five-hour debate last night, Memphis’s City Council voted down a resolution that would have allowed new police officers to live within 20 miles of the Shelby County line, reports the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The council voted 7-6 along racial lines to kill the plan. In the days leading up to the vote council members were swamped with phone calls and e-mail messages — driven in large part by talk radio — asking them to support the resolution.
About 200 residents, most of them in favor of relaxing the residency requirement, packed the council chambers to express their displeasure with the city’s crime rate and to plead for more police officers. White council members favored the resolution; black members opposed it. Several members who voted against the resolution have said that the police department is not doing enough to hire local officers, especially African-Americans. Many of the people who spoke in favor of relaxing the residency requirement relayed their own personal experiences with crime, bringing some to the verge of tears.