MEMPHIS, Tenn. — ABC 24 political analyst and commentator Otis Sanford shared his point of view on state lawmakers passing a ban on residency requirements for police and firefighters.
It appears that the issue over residency requirements for first responders has finally been put to rest. And now, the city of Memphis – along with every other municipality in the state except Hamilton County - will be barred for demanding that police and firefighters live within close proximity of the city. That is assuming Governor Bill Lee signs the bill passed Monday by the state House – which he is expected to do.
This issue became contentious – not so much because public safety workers can’t live where they choose – but because lawmakers who don’t live in Memphis were behind the bill. And they were specifically targeting the Bluff City and nowhere else.
That changed when the House adopted the state Senate version that prohibits residency rules throughout the state excluding Hamilton County, home to Chattanooga – which requires its public safety workers to live in the state.
The criticism that outside lawmakers were once again making decisions for Memphis was valid. And yet, the city’s residency rules were too restrictive.
So now that the dispute is settled, it’s time for the city and the police department to get busy filling more of those vacant police officer jobs with qualified candidates who understand the nuances of policing in inner city neighborhoods. Because the bottom line should be safer streets - but just as important, a robust police force that adheres to the mission to protect and serve.