Do Other Police Departments Require Officers to Live In-City?

By Jonah Spangenthal-Lee March 1, 2011

Following up on last week's lively discussion about whether Seattle cops should be required to actually live in Seattle, I thought I'd take a look at whether other cities require officers to live where they work:

Philadelphia cops are required to live in city.

LAPD has no residency requirements.

Nor does Portland.

Pittsburgh PD requires officers to live in-city while they're with the department:

Applicants must become residents of the City of Pittsburgh prior to employment and remain a resident throughout employment.

NYPD requires officers to "reside in New York City or one of the surrounding counties of NYC... Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam, Nassau, or Suffolk counties" once hired.

Boston requires officer candidates to live in-city for a full year before even applying to the department , and they're required to live within city limits once hired.

Memphis PD requires officers to live within the county.

Seattle apparently can't require officers to live in city, due to a state law, which prohibits employment discrimination based on residency:

No city, town, or municipality shall require any person applying for or holding an office, place, position, or employment under the provisions of this chapter or under any local charter or other regulations described in RCW 41.12.010 to reside within the limits of such municipal corporation as a condition of employment or to discriminate in any manner against any such person because of his or her residence outside of the limits of such city, town, or municipality.

Under the current state law, SPD can't require officers to live in town, but that doesn't necessarily mean they can't provide some sort of incentive.

The Michigan legislature overturned Detroit PD's residency requirements in 1999, which apparently led to a mass exodus of officers moving out of the city (because who the fuck wants to live in Detroit?). But last month, the city began a $30 million initiative to offer "police officers tax-foreclosed homes and up to $150,000 in rehab grants to move into the Boston Edison and East English Village neighborhoods."

Washington DC PD used to have residency requirements. Now, their website says:

Do I have to live in the District of Columbia to be an MPD officer?

MPD officers do not have to reside in DC; however, there is a residency preference that adds points to the rating and ranking score of qualified candidates who live in the District of Columbia. Police officers who live in the District are also eligible for certain housing assistance programs, including PLUS (Police & Landlords for Unity and Safety), which provides officers who live in the District with discounted rent from private or public sector housing providers.

It seems if the city's actually committed to getting more cops to live in town, Mayor McGinn and Co. will need to provide a financial incentive like DC and Detroit (and probably some other cities) have done.

But I really doubt the city will be willing to cough up the cash for such a program anytime soon.

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