Most police recruits in Pittsburgh’s latest class don’t live in city
Pittsburgh police officer recruits wasted no time taking advantage of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling in May that permits city officers — for the first time — to live outside city limits.
Twenty-three of the latest class of 34 recruits do not live in the city, according to Pittsburgh personnel records.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” said Robert Swartzwelder, president of Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1. “Those numbers are going to continue to climb. Within five years, I would say, the overwhelming majority of police officers will not live in the city and maybe not, in fact, be from the city.”
The police union battled the city for years over a century-old residency requirement.
The union has said that recruiting from a wider area would generate a larger pool of diverse candidates.
The state Supreme Court upheld a 2014 ruling by an arbitration panel that said officers could live outside the city but within 25 air miles of the City-County Building on Grant Street, Downtown.
According to the Pittsburgh Personnel Department, 11 recruits live within city limits. The new class started last week.
Recruits living outside the city are from municipalities including Jefferson Hills, Clinton, Oakdale, Trafford, Carnegie, West Mifflin, Presto, Verona, Houston, Export, North Huntingdon, Seven Fields and Valencia.
Mayor Bill Peduto and City Council members unanimously supported keeping the residency requirement for police.
Kevin Acklin, Peduto’s chief of staff, noted that residents overwhelmingly approved a referendum that made employee residency part of the city’s Home Rule Charter.
The administration hopes the police union’s prediction that dropping the requirement will create a larger pool of candidates proves to be true, Acklin said.
“We’re encouraged that there’s such a robust response to the police class,” Acklin said. “Our hope is a good portion of these officers will choose to live in the city.”
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff reporter. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .