About 30 percent of Bridgeport’s 702 public safety officers reside in the city, according to statistics provided by the city last May. It’s a figure that also parallels numerous cities around the country: most police don’t live in cities they serve. The same national survey showed that Black and Hispanic officers are considerably more likely to reside in the cities they police than white ones. City Councilman Ernie Newton is lobbying his peers to begin a dialogue to enact policies to hire more city residents to municipal positions.
Newton has proposed a “residency resolution concerning the hiring of city residents to fill “open competitive” employment positions.” It will be referred to the Ordinance Committee. On Monday January 1, the City Council’s first meeting of 2018 will take place Tuesday 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers, 45 Lyon Terrace. Looks like a short meeting, according to the agenda, see here. Addendum here.
“Between the top wage earners in our city–police, fire and education–most don’t live in the city,” says Newton. “We’ve got to build a middle class. I’m trying to make sure that people in Bridgeport have an opportunity. I’m strictly Bridgeport first. We’re not saying 100 percent. But I don’t think there’s anyone on the council opposed to putting Bridgeport first.”
For example, Newton says, hire city residents for police and fire entry-level positions showing irrefutable proof of residency.
Residency requirements changed in the 1980s through collective bargaining agreements that allowed a mileage radius. Then the Connecticut legislature got into the act prohibiting “municipalities from requiring that employees covered by collective bargaining agreements live in the town as a condition of employment.” See history here.
Retired city firefighter Donald Day who has pushed for more city hires for uniformed services for years in the OIB comments section, offers an alternative solution declaring this policy: “you don’t have to stay a resident, but you sure as hell have to start out as one.”
That’s a suggestion Newton is pursuing, requiring a reasonable commitment to city residency, with a choice to move out after a specific period expires, say six months or a year.
Day has also cited the positive economic impact for cities where resident employees spend the bulk of their money.