MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Two Memphis City Council members want to loosen a residency rule for Memphis police officers and firefighters that requires those public servants to live within Shelby County limits.
If you want to serve and protect Memphis, a current city charter requires you to live in Shelby County.
A new proposal by city council members Gerre Currie and Ford Canale would expand that residency requirement to anywhere within two hours of the city.
“Expand the pool to gain more officers to help move Memphis forward,” Currie said.
A residency requirement has been controversial in Memphis for more than a decade. Critics of loosening the requirement argue officers should live and have a stake in the community they serve.
Mike Williams, president of the Memphis Police Association disagrees with that notion.
“They go above and beyond regardless of where they live,” Williams said. “When Tim Warren was killed, nobody asked where he lived. When Montoya Lang was killed, nobody asked where she lived.”
To enact the change, Memphians would ultimately vote on a referendum.
At least one city councilman, Martavious Jones, has previously disagreed with loosening the residency requirement and plans to fight the proposal again.
Councilwoman Currie thinks the change is what Memphians want, especially with the recent approval of the Public Safety Tax.
“Crime and safety in this community is important, you listen to what your constituents say and you try to act accordingly,” she said.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s Office said he approves changing the residency requirement.
“By expanding our residency requirements, we’re increasing the pool of likely candidates, and in turn, increasing our chances of putting more officers on the streets to keep you and your families safe. We’ve been making significant strides over the last two years on our recruitment and hiring, and that’s great. But, we need to do more. This will allow us to do just that.”
The city council has it’s first reading of the proposal this week.