Philly mayor wants to restore residency requirement for cops

If approved, officers would have to live within the city limits beginning in 2020

PoliceOne Staff

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia city officials say Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration wants police officers to live in the city they patrol, something local advocates have been pushing for as talks begin between the city and the police union, The Philadelphia Tribune reports.  

City officials wouldn’t elaborate on the record to The Philadelphia Tribune but administration spokeswoman Lauren Cox said the mayor has “consistently believed that requiring all City workers to live within City boundaries, alongside the people they serve, is important to having a well-run City, with a workforce directly tied to the overall community.” 

Solomon Jones, who heads the Philadelphia-based Rally for Justice Coalition, told The Philadelphia Tribune his group has been advocating for the residency requirement to be reinstated. Cops better understand and relate to residents when they live in the city they patrol, Jones told the publication. 

“We want people who live here, who have a stake here, who are raising their families here and who understand the people here, rather than people who come from outside and tend to view us in ways that might be derogatory,” he said. 

The city has mandated residency requirements for nearly all city employees since the 1950s, but police and some other public workers are exempt, The Philadelphia Tribune reports. Approximately 30 percent of Philadelphia police officers live outside of Philadelphia, according to Acting Commissioner Christine Coulter. 

In 2010, the police union won the right for officers who have five or more years of experience to live outside the city limits. Those terms have been in effect since 2012. Firefighters and sheriff’s deputies with five or more years of service were allowed to live outside of the city in 2016.  

City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, a Democrat, spoke in favor of tightening residency requirements at a recent council meeting. According to the report, Kenyatta maintains easing the residency requirement for officers has contributed to a disconnect between cops and the neighborhoods they serve. 

“If you’ve never really interacted in the city with city individuals, you’re going to come with a cultural deficit when it comes to operating in that particular neighborhood,” Johnson said on the floor. “It [the residency requirement] can only add to the issue of public safety.” 

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