New Jersey towns and cities could require newly-hired police and firefighters to live in the community where they work for five years.
Civil service rules already have a residency requirement for new police officers and firefighters during a one-year probationary period.
Assembly Judiciary Committee chairman John McKeon (D-Essex County) says his bill could get police to be more involved in the local community.
“When you have a cop that live in your town, he becomes a coach, he becomes an extra set of eyes, he becomes a deterrent,” McKeon said.
Newark police detective James Stewart is vice president of the New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police. He says the five-year residency requirement raises safety concerns.
“Are we going to have people knocking on our door upset you arrested her son for drug dealing?” Stewart asked. “Word is going to get out where you live. It’s a bad bill. You’re putting cops’ families in danger.”
The president of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey believes the extended residency requirement would make it more difficult to attract top-notch recruits.
This issue is mostly pushed by those in New Jersey cities. Residents in Trenton for example have long complained that many officers live in safer suburbs. But this demand could look very different in expensive towns.
“I’ll let the officers in Alpine and Far Hills to start looking for sheds because if they opt in, quite frankly, you’re not going to find a house for less than $800,000 or $900,000 in some of these communities,” said Pat Colligan, president of the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association.