Should police live where they patrol? Baton Rouge mulls residency rule

After a fraught couple weeks for Baton Rouge, La., law enforcement, which saw protests after the death of Alton Sterling at the hands of police, as well as murder of three law enforcement officers, some city council members are contemplating changes in city residency requirements for officers.

Two city council members are now sponsoring legislation that would require all Baton Rouge police officers hired after 2016 to live within the city. The measure, which the bill’s sponsors say is intended to remedy racial imbalance within the police force, has met significant criticism from those who say it is an ill-timed measured aimed not at real change, but mere political gain. Nationally, residency requirements have long met opposition from those who say they are difficult to enforce, and can hurt departments’ abilities to recruit the best officers, though supporters say such requirements can go a long way toward fostering better relations between police and the community.

“Right now, we’re in the midst of burying two city policeman and one sheriff’s deputy,” City Council member Buddy Amoroso told The Advocate. “The timing of this is absolutely despicable. This is not the time to have this dialogue, it is very shameful that this is even coming up to be introduced.”

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