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NYPD Facebook Furor Brings Calls for Local Residency Rule

Sunday, December 11, 2011

NYPD Officers at Zuccotti Park. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Monday that calls for the New York Police Department to require officers to live in the city are unnecessary.

Bloomberg said about 60 percent of officers live in city limits and did not believe any residency requirement was necessary.

The mayor spoke a day after Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries said that he plans to introduce a bill requiring that all new NYPD recruits live within the five boroughs. The proposal stemmed from the ongoing controversy over officers who allegedly made racist remarks about West Indian Day paradegoers on Facebook.

"If you live in New York City, you're more likely to show some respect for the tremendous racial and cultural diversity in New York City, the diversity that makes us great," Jeffries said.

Jeffries noted that police departments in Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston have similar residency requirements. Currently, New York City officers may live either within the city or in one of six surrounding counties: Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Putnam or Orange.

The Facebook comments, some of which refer to paradegoers as "animals" and "savages," are currently being investigated by the NYPD.

"Most New York City police officers reside in New York City," NYPD spokesman Paul Browne wrote in an email in response to the proposal. "Sixty percent of the current Police Academy class are New York City residents. Fifty-three percent of NYPD personnel in the rank of police officer are minorities; 47 percent are white."

So, as the force ages and retires, Browne notes, the demographic of rank and file police officers is becoming “increasingly” made up of minorities

But Brooklyn council member Letitia James said a residency requirement was necessary, arguing that when police officers live within a community they're more likely to respect its residents.

"At no point in time would individuals who live next to individuals who are different go online and say they should be blown up, that they're savages, that they're less than humans," she said.

Rickford Burke, president of the Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy, suggested there was a double standard for city employees, with most municipal agencies requiring workers to live within the city, but not the uniformed services. He also argued against another requirement, that NYPD officers must be U.S. citizens, saying this discouraged immigrant diversity.

Burke thinks bigotry will remain a problem unless police reforms are instituted.

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Comments [6]

T.W. from BK

Ralf, well over half of every new group of police hires is composed of minorities, other than white. At present, most police officers are minorities. It was right there in the article.

Let me be clear: a residency requirement to fight bigotry is a bigoted idea.

Dec. 12 2011 12:04 PM
Steven from Harlem

I think there is more behind this proposal that should be recognized. Police Officers are inherently part of our community. Commuting police officers are by definition not part of the community.

If you live where you work, you shop in the community and support local businesses. You pay rent and taxes and support the community (in many cases) this way as well. You spend less time and energy commuting.

If a residency requirement works in Boston and other cities, than why not NY. It won't solve the racial issues, but it certainly won't hurt. Of course people can isolate themselves and still remain bigoted wherever they live. But why not more towards a more community based force with a residency requirement.

Yes, it's expensive here, but there are still many pockets of affordable housing that would welcome a new police officer as a neighbor.

If you want to live in the suburbs, then you can work for their police force.

Dec. 12 2011 12:00 PM
Ralf from Bushwick

Great point, T.W.! The NYPD should simply screen applicants carefully, then just hire the GOOD ones. In fact, I think this incredible idea of yours could revolutionize every organization in the entire world.

Do you imagine that there is more racism in Appalachia than in Long Island? Yes, of course you imagine that, and with banjo music!

If you don't think there's anything wrong with a bulk of our policemen coming from the white-flight suburbs--created, or at least populated, out of fear of blacks and Puerto Ricans--then just say so. If you don't think they come in to the job with the mindset of controlling the savages, then say that. Don't pretend your concern is with fairness.

Dec. 12 2011 10:00 AM
John from office

An officer was killed today protecting the "community" from itself. Maybe if African American elected officials focused on the criminals in their neighborhoods and not obsess on the officers trying to protect it. Go after the guns, the crips, the gangs and the drugs, not the police.

Dec. 12 2011 09:37 AM
bob wade from Jersey

It smacks of discrimination; NYC is just too darn expensive and whatever profession you choose, where you live is your own business, not legislators.

Dec. 12 2011 08:03 AM
T.W. from BK

This proposal is so small-minded and pandering it hurts to read.

If you think that a person is more prone to being a bigot because he or she lives outside a city rather than in it, then you are a bigot.

Secondly, there are well-established black and Hispanic neighborhoods throughout the NYC suburbs, and if a son or daughter of one of these areas wants to join the NYPD but can't because she wants to continue living at home with family while serving, then you are not only a bigot for dreaming up the law, but also crushing the employment rights of blacks and Hispanics who would presumably be assets to the NYPD.

Third, it seems under the proposed law like anyone from anywhere can join the NYPD as long as they simply move to NYC the moment they are hired. What does this solve? A racist from Appalachia can move to NYC on hiring day and settle into the cheapest, whitest neighborhood he can afford, go on to be a racist cop, and nothing has changed.

Fourth, if the law were to require that you live in NYC for a period of time before getting hired, so you can acclimate to the city's diversity first, then... well then you could just settle into the cheapest, whitest neighborhood you can afford, go on to be a racist cop, and nothing has changed. The law would also probably be struck down in court for myriad reasons, but I digress.

Politicians, just wanting to score cheap points with their base, seek to force police officers to struggle to raise families in the most expensive city in the world, and in doing so deny them the only means of compromise open to nearly everyone else: an opportunity to live in one of New York City's more affordable suburbs. Now that's a stick in the eye of every upward-striving black and Hispanic NYPD officer on the force.

...and troubling for the people who pay taxes for leaders to actually solve problems, not just posture.

Simply require that the NYPD carefully screen and hire good applicants in the first place.

Dec. 11 2011 09:21 PM

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