Philly may try to alter police residency requirement

Philly may try to alter police residency requirement

Two years before state law was changed to allow police residency as a subject of collective bargaining in Pittsburgh certain police officers in Philadelphia won the right to move outside of that city’s limits.  The current contract between the police and the city is set to expire next June, and, according to a news article, the city’s administration may want to require police to live in Philadelphia.

If a police officer has at least five years of experience the officer does not have to reside in Philadelphia as a condition of employment.  In June 2017 we noted 1,058 eligible officers (about 16 percent of the police headcount) had moved out of Philadelphia. 

Much like when officials in Pittsburgh who were in favor of requiring police to live in the city and made arguments about community involvement and having employees live near the residents they serve, so too have Philadelphia’s.  In the article it notes that approximately 30 percent of eligible police now reside outside of the city, a significant upswing from two years ago.  That’s a higher percentage than what was reported last May for Pittsburgh, which now requires officers to live within a 25-mile radius of downtown.  That came after a Supreme Court ruling on an arbitration award and an amendment to the city’s home rule charter mandating residency within the city.

Philadelphia’s square mileage is nearly 2.5 times that of Pittsburgh and people who work in Philadelphia, regardless of residence, pay a non-resident earned income tax to the city. 

In 2001 we wrote that the reasons for implementing and retaining public employee residency requirements was “more political than economical” and it is quite likely that a lot of negotiation will be taking place in the state’s largest city as the police contract is renewed. Officers who have already relocated will likely be exempted from any change that might come about. What would prospective new hires give up in pay and benefits to be able to do the same?