Police Officer Entitled To Residency Waiver

The collective bargaining agreement between Lodge 8 of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and the City of Altoona, Pennsylvania has a residency requirement that allows officers to obtain waivers for “cause shown.”

A police officer with one year’s tenure with the City requested a waiver of the residency requirement. The officer cited two reasons: (1) The fact that her husband worked as a police officer for a nearby township, and was subject to a residency requirement in that township that did not have the possibility of waiver; and (2) that her residency in the City placed her in physical danger because of her encounters with a mentally unstable individual who had threatened her. When the City denied the request for a waiver of the residency requirement, the FOP challenged the denial in arbitration.

An arbitrator upheld the request for the waiver. The Arbitrator was unimpressed with the FOP’s arguments concerning the mentally unstable individual, noting that the individual could easily cross township lines and harass the officer at the nearby township. However, the Arbitrator accepted the FOP’s arguments concerning the residency requirements applicable to the officer’s husband.

While the contract did not define the term “cause shown” in the context of the residency requirement, the Arbitrator noted that a previous arbitration decision tied the phrase “cause shown” to “safety, economic and/or personal reasons.” The Arbitrator found that the fact that the officer and her husband could not live together as long as both were employed by their current employers was sufficient “cause shown” to allow for a waiver. The Arbitrator concluded that since the officer’s husband did not have the option of a waiver, there were “unique and compelling circumstances” justifying the officer’s request.

City of Altoona and FOP, Lodge 8, LAIG 6334 (O’Connell, 2006).

This article appears in the May 2006 issue