PHILADELPHIA — Mayor Nutter yesterday announced that the city has relaxed its residency requirement for wannabe police officers.
"This waiver removes a key barrier to recruiting the best and the brightest," Nutter said.
The Philadelphia Civil Service Commission granted the waiver, allowing nonresidents to become police recruits.
Previously, new recruits had to live in the city for a year before entering the police academy. Under the new rule, they must move into the city within six months after they graduate.
Nutter said the deadline to apply for the next academy class is April 4. Police hope to have 150 in the class and so far have only about 50 recruits, said Deputy Commissioner Jack Gaittens.
Nutter said he did not think the residency change will negatively affect local residents seeking these jobs.
"I fully expect Philadelphians will continue to be competitive," he said. "This is a rule that does not make sense anymore."
Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby said he supported the waiver.
"This is welcome news. This is something we have been talking about since Mayor Nutter took office," he said. For now, the residency requirements remain in place for those applying to other city jobs. But Councilman Jim Kenney has proposed legislation that would give all city workers — except manual laborers — six months to move into town after they are hired.
Nutter said he supported the legislation and hoped it would pass soon. He said he wanted the waiver for police immediately because of the crime emergency.
"This allows us now to recruit," he said.
Gaittens promised an aggressive recruitment campaign that could include advertising and visits to other cities.
Under the waiver, recruits will be required to sign a letter pledging to move into the city and acquire a Philadelphia driver's license within six months. If they don't fulfill those promises, they'll be fired.