D.C. City Council member H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7) said yesterday that police officers who are required to live in the city as a condition of employment are being harassed and that he will introduce a bill to exempt officers below the rank of lieutenant from the residency requirement.
"I have heard countless disturbing accounts of the harassment which police families must face -- bricks through windows, doors kicked in, tires slashed, their children ridiculed at school and the threats upon the officers' lives both while on and off duty," Crawford said at a press conference.
Crawford drafted the bill following reports that the District government has given 36 police officers and firefighters 10 days to show that they live in the city, as required by a law enacted in 1980, or face dismissal.
The warnings have drawn complaints of unfairness from the city employes, some of whom said they do live in the city and were given the notices erroneously.
D. Kay Pendergrass, a D.C. police officer assigned to the 1st District and one of those facing dismissal, blamed the residency requirement for the breakup of her second marriage and emotional problems experienced by her 14-year-old daughter.
Pendergrass, the mother of three children, said that she and her new husband, who is also a police officer, moved to the Naylor Gardens apartments last summer to meet the city's residency requirements.
She said her daughter, Malissa, suffered a loss of appetite and became depressed, necessitating costly psychiatric treatment, after she was repeatedly harassed and threatened by other children because her mother was a police officer.
The move caused other pressures as well that put a strain on her marriage, Pendergrass said.
Juan Randolph, a three-year member of the police force who lives in Northeast Washington, said that his 16-year-old son was beaten up and he and his wife were threatened after Randolph arrested a person living in his neighborhood.