|Business Books Guy|
by Bram Reichbaum
Councilman Ricky Burgess is proposing a ballot initiative for the next election to determine whether City police officers must continue to be barred from living elsewhere than the City proper.
"The community I represent ... they are frightened and disturbed that the police officers that patrol their streets have no personal interest in the city that they protect," he said. "They won't live, play ... and worship in the city." (P-G, Moriah Balingit)
Probably not coincidentally, the P-G was prepared with an editorial already.
Asking workers to support their employers by being taxpaying citizens is not unduly burdensome. In addition, living in a community can better prepare officers -- in fact, all city workers -- for their jobs, because they are bound to be more informed about what's going on at a grassroots level and more connected to their fellow Pittsburghers by virtue of being members of the populace. (Edit Board)
Here is the thing:
Even today under a residency requirement, is there even the slightest assumption in Rev's community and those like it that the white officers from Banksville are personally knowledgeable of and invested in the black residents in Homewood?
Pittsburgh Councilman Ricky Burgess said Tuesday he's worried that relations between police and the city's poorest communities are at crisis level.“On both sides you're going to see violence,” he said. “Both sides are armed. The disconnect that causes trauma on both sides is at the boiling point. We have to get both sides to change these attitudes."
Burgess pointed to two “false narratives” causing problems: that officers believe people hate them and are complicit in criminal activity, while residents think officers hate them, disrespect them and are out to convict them of crimes.“If we do not address this, this is a train wreck heading for our city,” Burgess said. “You're looking at a bomb ready to explode.” (Trib, Margaret Harding)
I agree, it's scary right now. We have a lot of work to do.
Not only is there work to be done staffing the Police Bureau's leadership, but reforming all manner of administrative, policing, training and oversight policies. Plus work making sure the community is meaningfully engaged and appraised of progress or lack thereof. That's all huge, and sensitive, and will require a lot of public attention and energy.
Difficult to imagine how launching what will be a long, clamorous, narrowly-focused and polarizing public argument about the employee residency requirement at the very start of that work will foster a good atmosphere for it.
|Mark Niquette, Bloomberg|
Besides, waiving that requirement might have positive effects as well. If officers can live elsewhere than in the City, perhaps we will be able to draw from a broader pool of applicants, and broader can mean more diverse. We may make ourselves more attractive to African-American candidates at all levels of experience, from across the country, if we're not telling them where to live with their families after hours.
So there are a lot of reasons to work and worry over many other things at the Police Bureau. But then again, maybe we're in the mood to wage a campaign at the ballot box instead. Maybe the most recent one wasn't perfectly adequate.