As the reputation of the NYPD continues to crater under the intense scrutiny of the public and media since the violence-marred George Floyd murder protests, a Queens lawmaker is introducing legislation that would require police officers to live in the community they work in.
Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz unveiled the Law Enforcement Residency Act that would establish residency rules for law enforcement hired after Jan. 1. The bill aims to increase diversity within the force and ensure the officers patrolling New York streets are better connected with the communities they serve.
The legislation also seeks to ensure the reinvestment of human capital and city-funded salaries back into the community. Those entrusted with patrolling New York City streets would be required to plant roots in the community, which would in turn provide them with a greater understanding of the needs, values and cultures of those who live there.
“For decades, officers have patrolled, arrested and brutalized members of our communities, while being shielded from the impact of their work when they clock out,” Cruz said. “This bill will mandate that those who are sworn to protect our families live right here next to them. Additionally, the fiscal implication of the bill ensures that taxpayer funds being used to finance the officer’s salaries would be pumped back into the local economy. I am proud to introduce legislation that not only generates greater police accountability but also maintains New York’s hard-earned taxpayer dollars be recirculated within New York.”
Cruz, and Brooklyn state Senator Kevin Parker, who will carry the legislation in the upper chamber, cited reporting from Streetblog that showed that less than half of all NYPD officers live within the five boroughs, with the majority living on Long Island and Westchester. Research has demonstrated that the residency of the members of a police force correlates to the diversity of said police force, as African-American and Latino officers are more likely to reside in the cities where they police, in comparison to their white counterparts.
“It’s critical that we cultivate better community connection between police and our city’s residents,” Parker said. “We have to ensure that officers who are deployed to communities throughout New York City have a better understanding and respect for the culture of those living here. Police officers who live in the city they serve and belong in that community, are more inclined to be connected to the residents and their jobs, beyond a paycheck.”
While Mayor Bill de Blasio dismissed the need for an NYPD residence requirement, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former city cop and likely candidate for mayor in 2021, supports the measure.
“The recent protests over the police killing of George Floyd and the broader issue of police abuse have sparked calls for reform. As someone who has dedicated his career to this cause, first as an officer in the NYPD, then as an elected official, I believe we have arrived at a critical moment for change,” Adams said. “In a report, we released in 2015 with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, which came out of a series of town halls held throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan, we found there was significant support for the idea that officers should live in the communities they police, not only because it would improve diversity within the ranks, but it also creates a deeper bond of trust between police and communities.”