Residency should be one of the most important requirements for police and firefighters of the District of Columbia. Police should be required to have their official residency in the city or municipality in which they are employed. Police are a local phenomenon and must remain so in order to be effective. If we permit police to live outside our city, we are regressing to pre- Home Rule time. I well remember the careless and insensitive attitudes of police officers in the District of Columbia before residency was a requirement.
Some supporters of Bill 6-211 would say "we should be able to live wherever we want to." We totally agree with freedom of choice -- but they knew when they accepted the job that residency was a requirement.
We recently surveyed our national organization on the issue of residency. Out of 112 organizations that represent every major police department in this country, 72 percent of them have a residency requirement before the applicant can take the test. . . .
In recognizing that our salaries are not comparable with the cost of housing in the District, we should be thinking of programs that would make it more attractive for police and firefighters to live here, such as low- interest loans to purchase homes and rent subsidies. These programs exist in several of our neighboring police departments and overseas. . . .
I am concerned that the union that represents all Metropolitan Police Officers would solicit persons with negative experiences in our city to display at this hearing. I and many other police officers have lived in this city all of our lives and have not had any negative experiences as police officers. Black children have no problems with their peers in the community. We have not had to take our children to psychiatrists because they cannot adjust to the neighborhood. I hope that these examples of negative experiences are not manifestations of racism.
I view this council as the guardian of our city. It is the council's responsibility to protect the interest of the citizens of the District of Columbia and not serve the desires of a very small special interest group. This small special interest group does not even live in the District or vote for members of the council.