Staff Editorial: Heated debate caused by police residency

By Duke Staff

When City of Pittsburgh police officers are hired to join on with the force, a part of this contract includes residency, or living within the city limits of Pittsburgh. The current officers have been trying for years to win the right to live outside of the city and there has recently been a breakthrough. An arbitrator ruled this month that officers can live outside the city. The city is appealing this decision in court.

There are many reasons why the officers should be granted permission to move out of the city limits of Pittsburgh, and as the police force is diminishing due to retirements, the need for new officers is greater than ever. When the force is looking to recruit educated and qualified officers in their mid-20s and 30s, raising a family in the inner city neighborhoods is not enticing to potential candidates. Raising a family in the same neighborhood where the officers make arrests is not only unsafe for the officer but for their family and children as well.

Another issue that surrounds recruitment is the school system. When looking to move into an area, especially with a family, education plays a major factor. The Pittsburgh Public School System does not offer special education services for those officer’s whose children have special needs, forcing the officers to turn to alternatives such as paying private school tuition.

If finalized, the officers would be permitted to move within 25 miles of the Pittsburgh city limits. That would be opening the door for employment of residents in counties such as Washington and Butler. Not only is this taking away employment from these forces, it is allowing these officers to drive long distances to work, making it almost impossible for them to respond to an emergency.

There are many possible solutions in keeping the Pittsburgh police officers within the city. Giving presentations within the Pittsburgh Public Schools and educating the students about the force is a way to get students interested in a possible career as an officer. Offering incentives to local students to enter the academy is a positive way to not only build the police force in the city, but give the students in Pittsburgh Public Schools a positive attainable career ambition.

A question that still arises is if the officers move away from the city, what will happen to other municipal workers, such as firefighters, politicians and other city employees? If a solution is reached for one party, it must be fair to all of those who work tirelessly to make Pittsburgh the place that it is.

One Response to "Staff Editorial: Heated debate caused by police residency"

  1. Peter Hurtz  June 12, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    If residency was enforced from the get go this issue would have never been a problem. Several city employees already live outside the city with false addresses and vacant property. Good for the police and this issue cannot be appealed, you cannot appeal binding arbitration. This residency clause will stay in effect unless they negotiate it away for something better.

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