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Police SirenThe protests against police in Ferguson, Missouri have many communities discussing the makeup of their police departments. Only 11 percent of Ferguson’s officers are black, compared to two-thirds of city residents.

The Rochester Police Department strives to reflect the community it serves. The department has been trying hard to improve diversity in its ranks. Seventy-five percent of the city’s 732 officers are white, compared to 44 percent of the city’s population.

But very few Rochester police officers live in the city. The city reports only 7 percent of police and firefighters live within city limits. Another report puts the figure at 10 percent for Rochester officers, with minority officers more likely to live in the city. The city is not legally allowed to impose residency requirements for uniformed personnel, though one is in place for other workers. Rochester does offer incentives for workers, including police, who purchase homes in the city.

In most cities, cops don’t live in the communities they patrol. Does this matter?

Supporters of police officers living in the city say it would make them more invested. They would know their neighbors. They would be good neighbors. Crime may fall on their streets. They would contribute to stability  and improve the housing stock.

But police officers clearly don’t want to live in the city. Studies of other cities show incentive programs get limited use. Police officers don’t want to live in high-crime areas. They don’t want to send their kids to sub-par schools. They don’t want to run into people they arrested. They don’t want to be “on-call” after they’re done with work for the day.

In the absence of residency requirements, it looks like achieving racial diversity in police departments is far more realistic.


Links of the Day:


– Forbes values the Buffalo Bills at $935 million, second to last in league.

– Will Cuomo debate Teachout? Not looking like it.

– Most Americans want to criminalize preteens playing outdoors unsupervised. We’ve lost our minds.

– Teen says he was suspended and detained for joking about killing a pet dinosaur. We’ve really lost our minds.

– The New York State Fair has interesting food items, such as the chicken, bacon, ranch donut sandwich.

Check out the New York State Fair butter sculpture.

8 Responses to Does Police Residency Matter?

  1. Does every job have to employ people in the same demographic percentage as the community it is located in?

    Why break it down just by race? Why not gender? How many are female? Isn’t that just as important?

    What about age? Don’t we need senior citizens on the force since there are many seniors in the City? Don’t forget teens, too. They may be unfairly represented.
    Shouldn’t there be an acceptable matching percentage of married vs. unmarried?

    Let’s not forget religious beliefs as well.

    Does EVERYTHING have to match a percentage and why one and not another?

    Seems to me it’s just a way to stir the pot and cause controversy.

  2. August 21, 2014 at 11:53 am Dick Ginkowski responds:

    Simple truism: You usually don’t get a job you don’t apply for.

    Those of us who fought for civil rights in the 60’s and 70’s knew that the goal was equality of access. There was no promise of equality of outcome. That’s up to the individual.

    Diversity is good but at the same time we should also be considering that so many things are really neutral. Does a white parent who lost a child cry more or less than a black parent in the same boat? Or does an Asian firefighter put out a fire any different than a Latino one? We need to be moving more to a color blind society based on merit.

    The most insidious form of racism is that which presupposes that “minorities” are somehow inferior and exceptions and accommodations must be made. That is denigrating and insulting. That’s not to say discrimination no longer exists. Where it does it should be ferreted out and punished severely.

    On this 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 it’s time to take the training wheels off and judge people by their abilities and content of their character and that means everyone.

  3. August 21, 2014 at 2:33 pm theodore kumlander responds:

    Sub-Par schools are a reflection of the students who attend those schools. Why would the cops want to live in dangerous neighborhoods, no one else does.

  4. August 21, 2014 at 6:26 pm Mark McIntee responds:

    I think at least the Town police chiefs should live in the Town they are serving. In the Town of Gates the police chief lives in Ogden.

  5. The police have a hard enough time as it is, imposing order, dignity, morality, a sense of ethics to drive economic prosperity and peace. Living in the combat zone isn’t going to help them. They could be targeted for assassination by the thug idiots out there. Their kids could be harassed. Their wives and girlfriends would be in physical jeopardy of sexual assault. Their property will be in jeopardy of unlawful destruction. You don’t defecate in your own nest. There is no reason for police to have to live where they work, nor should they for their safety and the safety of their families and property.

  6. For the economic benefits, I think municipal employees should live in the communities they serve. I do however think it is hard for cops to do so, because they are living in the same neighborhoods as people they’ve arrested. I’m not sure positives things would come out of that.

    Usually residency requirements are thinly veiled racists attacks against whites, just look at Rochester. When they say they want city residents, what they really mean are blacks and latinos. White city employees who live in the city are usually are disregarded, while minorities from the suburbs are treated as “reflecting the city.” Look at the last mayoral race, Warren who lives on a street that is a mere block from the city border is disparaging Richards for living on a different street that is about the same distance from the city border. So for one, a black woman, its ok but for the white man its somehow wrong.

  7. Rachel, you should do a report on city police and fire residency and break it down by race. I think the results might be interesting, I think more white officers and firefighters live in the city than people think.

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