Police confined by residency requirements
Introduction to Law Enforcement
Professor Joseph Alkus
April 11th, 2013
As a particular saying goes, “Home is where the heart is.” This statement rings true to many individuals who view home as an escape from the outside world, an abode, a place of relaxation and comfort. For police officers, they too hold a similar notion, viewpoint of home. Yet for some, officers are restricted to where exactly the place where they call home resides. For many police departments, residency requirements are put into place for officers to live or reside in the area in which they work. These requirements, this type of policy can affect police in a number of areas. Yet perhaps it is better that police residency remain a choice and instead there could be other ways to instill the same commitment from police to the community without the need or requirement for them to inhabit it. Residency Requirements (R.R.)
Residency requirements, as they relate to law enforcement, are requirements of a policy that require police officers to either to do one or in some cases all of the following: live in the city, live in the city within one year of hiring, and live in the neighborhood where assignments are. The reasons or main philosophy behind these requirements are to enforce a sense of community between the police and its residents. Its reasoning is to help foster trust or oneness between the law and the citizens in which they seek to protect, better community relations so to speak. These requirements, however, are ensuring that essentially police officers are restricted to where they choose to reside or the specific town. Though police have the option of choosing which street or area they choose to call “home,” they are controlled or limited as to exactly where that is: the city. For police officers, this policy is not up for debate. It comes with the job and if it is not performed by the officer, than in simple terms, they can leave and don’t let the door hit them on their way out. For police officers, this policy shows deep dedication and commitment to their profession as they are fundamentally giving up their right to choose where they want to live and instead be fully and duly focused on their job as an enforcer of the law. Even so, one can ask, where does work end and “home” enter in? For police officers, this line can be and seem quite blurry. Police residency requirements, being required to live and reside in the area/city in which officers are assigned, can seem, in a figurative sense, continually being on the force, on the job, without principally ever being able to clock out. R.R. Effects on Police
There are many effects that residency requirements have on police officers. One is that police officers can feel constrained or uneasy about the environment in which they protect and are required to reside in. In the article, “Home is where your paycheck is,” by Laurel Walters, discusses the notion of police and the effects, thoughts about being required to live in a certain area. She writes, “After a long day of chasing criminals and investigating murders in Kansas City, MO., police officer John Bryant would like to leave the urban area he patrols for a more rural community 30 or 40 miles away. But, like many police officers nationwide, Mr. Bryant risks losing his job if he moves outside the city limits,” (Walters, 1995). The article goes on to state, “ “It would be nice to live in a smaller community where you could send your kids to better schools and not worry about their safety,” Bryant says,” (Walters, 1995). This excerpt lists an example of a police officer and his desire for something different but the realities he faces because of residency requirements. As can be noted here, though residency requirements are for the police, in a way, they affect the entire household of a police officer. Husbands/wives, children,...