Public Has Say On Requiring Police to Live in City

Jul 18, 2013

A dozen speakers came out today to express their opinions about whether city police should be required to live inside the City of Pittsburgh - with a unanimous “yes.”

The public hearing was held on Councilman Ricky Burgess’s proposal to put the police residency issue on the November 5 ballot.

Those who testified all argued the same point - how could the police properly protect them when they don’t even know them.

“Be my neighbor be my friend, get to know me,” Kim Brown said. “All other municipalities require employees to live in the district, so should the city of Pittsburgh.”

Kenneth Miller said he believes the referendum would encourage people to come out and vote.

“People need a reason to vote in November…people are going to vote to keep the police here in the city of Pittsburgh,” Miller said. “I don’t know any residents in the city of Pittsburgh that think it’s a good idea for the police to leave and only come in here with their guns to occupy it, that’s a bad plan.”

The speakers said the police need to be involved in the community to really understand and care about the people in it.

“They need to be here, they need to be present, they need to be in the schools, they need to be in the communities on community days, so they definitely do not need to be further away, our goal is to bring them closer,” Brandi Fisher said.

Cristy Seifco, the daughter of a Pittsburgh police officer and wife of a Pittsburgh firefighter said all city workers should stay and invest themselves in the neighborhoods.

“Growing up as the daughter of a Pittsburgh police officer, my mother was always on top of any suspicious activity in our neighborhoods off duty,” Cristy Seifco said. “I know at the time I rolled my eyes at it but now I truly value her efforts and what it means.”

In addition to the scheduled speakers, about 60 children packed Council chambers Thursday afternoon.

The Pennsylvania legislature amended state law last year to eliminate the residency requirement in Pittsburgh. The city and the Fraternal Order of Police have been unable to reach an agreement on the matter and  an arbitration panel is expected to decide this fall.  Burgess says no matter what comes out of arbitration he expects an appeal to Allegheny County Court and the judge would have to consider the will of the voters. Council will vote on Burgess’s legislation Tuesday.