MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tuesday, the Memphis City Council decided to delay voting on whether or not to change the police residency law until April.
The law requires that police officers have to live within the city limits in order to work for the Memphis Police Department. For years, local officials have debated whether or not to extend the range in order to the ability to hire more officers.
In 2021, a bill to ban police residency requirements was passed by the Tennessee Senate but the House pushed the legislation until 2022. Tuesday, State Senators Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and Paul Rose (R-Covington), and Representatives Mark White (R-Memphis), and John Gillespie (R-Memphis) all announced that this bill will one of their top priorities in the 2022 legislation.
With that announcement, Memphis City Council has delayed voting on changing the law in order to see what happens in the General Assembly and if the bill is passed.
“Passage of this legislation will help us fight our rising crime rates by enabling us to hire more police officers.” said Senator Kelsey. “This requirement, needs to be removed immediately because it is an obstacle in recruiting and retaining first responders in an already tough labor market.”
“Reducing violent crime, public safety and safe streets are the number one priority of the residents of Memphis,” said Representative White. “Studies have shown that the Memphis Police Department is understaffed by several hundred officers and that as the number of officers in the police force increases, the levels of violent crime in Memphis decrease. This bill will aid efforts to make our streets safer.”
In 2021, Memphis reached a record-breaking number of 346 homicides, 31 of which were children under 18.
The 2022 session talks will begin next Tuesday, January 11th.