Should police officers be required to live in the cities they patrol? There's no evidence it matters
Protests that have ravaged the country after George Floyd's death have led to calls to limit police funding, hold officials accountable for dangerous restrictions - and even limit where they can live.
Some activists want officials to live in the cities where they patrol, arguing that this would make the officials more culturally competent, diversify the police force, and improve relationships with the community.
"It's a plus if we have civil servants who live in the city, grew up in the city, and have a stake in the city because it's home," said Kenyatta Johnson, a member of the Philadelphia City Council on Thursday a bill to restore the city's residency needs. "It's a long way to build community trust."
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However, no recent research shows that residence requirements improve relationships between police officers and the residents they have sworn to protect.
"During our research, we have never found any evidence that police officers' demands or incentives to live in the communities where they work have a positive impact on the quality of police work," said Communities United Against Police Brutality, A city-based city organization says on its website.
Instead, law enforcement experts and community activists say lawmakers should focus on measures such as ending arrest warrants and chokeholds that have resulted in the recent death of African Americans.
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A peaceful vigil at the George Floyd memorial at the Cup Foods Market at the intersection of E. 38th Street and Chicago Ave on Monday, June 1, 2020. George Floyd died in police custody at that location on May 25, 2020.
The rise in residence requirements
Residence requirements for city employees - including teachers, police officers, and firefighters - emerged during the 19th century machinery policy, but went out of fashion in the early 20th century, said Peter Eisinger, professor emeritus at the New School in New York City.
Politics experienced a renaissance in the United States in the 1970s. By 1980, according to Eisinger's 1980 study, almost two-thirds of all cities with more than 250,000 inhabitants had such laws. At that time, cities were looking for ways to improve the diversity of the urban workforce and limit white escape to the suburbs.
"People began to think that urban workers, especially the police and teachers, should reflect the communities they serve," said Eisinger. "The idea of an urban workforce coming into the city from the suburbs was colonial. They had white suburban employees who mostly taught minority schools."
However, residence requirements were not just about relationships with the community. Many have been introduced to measure the expenses and taxes that local employees generate - the "local cassette theory," said Eisinger.
As politics spread, some fought them. In 1976, a Philadelphia fireman who was released after moving to New Jersey questioned the city's request, but the United States Supreme Court upheld it.
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Police associations and unions have argued that residence requirements limit the talent pool and cause corruption. In 2010, the Philadelphia Police Union persuaded the city to allow officers to stay outside of the city limits after five years of service. The percentage of civil servants living outside of the city has increased since then, although most still live in Philadelphia.
Some city workers have disregarded residence requirements. In March, the chief of the Kansas City Police Union, Missouri, claimed that some officers circumvented their rule by renting trailers in the city and keeping their real homes elsewhere.
Although these rules have become less popular in recent years, some major cities still have them. Some guidelines give employees time to move to the city after they are hired. Others allow officials to move out after a certain amount of time. Some offer discounts to people living in the city, e.g. B. Additional points for entrance exams.
In a 2015 report on 21st century policing, a federal task force recommended that police departments set up "residency incentive programs" that provide housing in public neighborhoods as long as they perform public security tasks in the neighborhood.
An essential qualification? Or a distraction?
María Quiñones Sánchez, a member of the Philadelphia City Council who supports residence requirements, said that residence should play a role in determining who is qualified to serve a community. She and Johnson said their voters asked for it.
"If you work for a government in a particular city, you should be a member of that community," said Sánchez, who lists residency requirements among its top five police reforms. "Who is qualified if not someone who is a member of a historically marginalized community? Don't you want more people to speak different languages?"
However, none of the seven law enforcement professionals who spoke to the US TODAY could refer to recent research showing that residence requirements have a positive impact on police officers' performance or community relationships.
"Unless there's a snowstorm and people live 50 miles away, that's not a problem," said Steve Nasta, a lecturer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who has worked with the New York City Police Department for more than three decades.
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When the Minneapolis city council considered residing in 2017, the Communities United Against Police Brutality group recommended.
"We often hear from community members that they don't want to live in the same neighborhood as officials who have arrested, harassed, or even abused them," wrote group president Michelle Gross in a letter to the council.
Dave Bicking, a board member of the group, described residence requirements as "a distraction from real reform".
A 1999 study even found that residence requirements had a negative impact on citizens' perception of the police.
"In the few studies we've seen, it's not clear that the residence requirement would improve relationships with communities," said Sarah Greenman, professor of criminology and criminal justice at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, said cities have moved away from residential needs.
"At a time when the job of a police officer is being questioned, it is time to find the best applicants from anywhere and any place they want to live," said Wexler. He argued that the cost of living in big cities made it difficult for officials to find accommodation there, and officials might prefer their children to go to suburban schools.
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Armored members of the Minneapolis State Patrol guard at an intersection in front of burned-out buildings in the third district of Minneapolis.
Even within cities, police officers can live in separate neighborhoods
Chicago has been requiring police officers to live in the city for about 100 years, but this policy has been sporadically enforced. In 2010, around 88% of civil servants lived in the city. According to the 2017 Chicago Sun-Times, dozens of police officers have resigned or been reprimanded for residence problems since 1981.
The composition of the Chicago police force today is not proportional to the demographics of the city as a whole, with a larger proportion of white officers than the city residents. The city has suffered a number of notoriously corrupt police officers and high-profile police killings. Tensions between police and residents are high in many parts of the city.
Even within the city, officials live in clusters outside of their districts. On Sunday, the organizers scolded a peace march in the predominantly Afro-American district of South Side in Chatham against officers living in the mostly white district of Beverly, just a few kilometers away.
Tamar Manasseh, who runs a community-based anti-violence initiative called Mothers Against Senseless Killing in the city's Englewood district, argues that police station requirements can only be effective if officials have to live in the neighborhoods where they work .
"You have to live among the people who patrol you, and all the sensitivity training in the world won't do anything for you," said Manasse. "You are less likely to crack your head if you know where you live and where you live. People who have dinner with each other don't kill each other."
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Protesters march against racism and police brutality and to defeat the Minneapolis Police Department on June 6, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. - After George Floyd's death on May 25, 2020, demonstrations take place in the United States while he is arrested in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
How many police officers live in the cities where they patrol?
The latest publicly available data indicate that the majority of civil servants generally do not live in the cities where they work, even though the data are more than a decade old.
On average, 31 percent of police officers were residents of the cities in which they patrolled. This was the result of a US TODAY survey of US census data for 745 cities for 2006-2010.
At that time, the differences in the officer's residence were different due to various factors, including the size and racial makeup of cities and the officer's race.
Larger cities tended to have a higher percentage of civil servants living within the city limits. Some of them, such as Chicago and Philadelphia, required officials to live within the city or within a certain radius.
According to the USA TODAY analysis, white police officers usually lived in the cities in which they worked when the majority of these cities were white. White officers were also more likely to live out of town than their black or Latin American counterparts.
Overall, in communities with a non-white population of less than 10%, the average police residence rate was 47%. In most non-white cities, however, it was only 27%.
In Minneapolis, where George Floyd died in police custody, only 8% of officials lived in the city in 2017, according to the Star Tribune. The Minneapolis police did not respond to a public request for an updated number.
In New York City, where civil servants can live in one of the five boroughs or six licensed boroughs, a much higher percentage of civil servants (61%) lived in the city, according to the census. But like in Minneapolis, there was a segregation: more than three-quarters of New York's black and Latin officers lived in the city, while less than half of the city's white officers lived.
Protesters kneel in Borough Hall as part of a solidarity rally demanding justice for the death of George Floyd and to highlight police brutality nationwide in the Brooklyn neighborhood of New York on Tuesday, June 9, 2020.
Other "research-based options" for police reform
There are better options for police reforms - research-backed ones - than residence requirements, Greenman said. Several randomized studies looked at how the strengthening of principles of procedural justice by officials such as representation, coherence and impartiality affects people.
"When this happens, people are more likely to view the police as legitimate, happy with the police, accepting the decisions they make, and sticking to the law in the future," said Greenman.
This week, Communities United Against Police Brutality introduced dozens of research-based options that focus on police accountability, training, and data collection. Among other things: Obligation of police officers to take out their own professional liability insurance; Make sure the badges are visible and legible; and persecution of excessive violence, investigator misconduct and perjury.
Residence requirements were not part of the comprehensive package of police reforms proposed by the Congress Democrats this week. Instead, legislation aims to strengthen police accountability through dashboard and body cameras, persecute aggressive officials with a checkered past, end arrest warrants and chokeholds, and limit transfers of military weapons to police stations.
In Minneapolis, activists and researchers who work under the banner of MPD150 and have carried out a 150-year review by the police agency are calling for the abolition of the police, an organization that the group says is based on violence, corruption and white supremacy.
"What we have seen in the course of our historical research," the group said, "is that reforms of any kind are ineffective for a number of reasons."
This article originally appeared in the US TODAY: Police Reform: No Residence Requirements for Evidence Effective
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