City Acts Within Its Rights In Denying Residency Waiver To Police Officer

The Altoona, Pennsylvania Police Department requires its officers to reside within the City unless it grants a waiver from the residency requirement. Under the terms of an agreement between the City and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), waivers are granted if an officer is subject to threats or other safety hazard by virtue of residence in the City.

When a 21-year veteran officer applied for a residency waiver, the City rejected his request. The FOP challenged the City’s denial in arbitration.

An arbitrator, clearly skeptical whether safety concerns were at the root of the officer’s request, upheld the City’s denial. The Arbitrator pointed out that the officer had only recently purchased land and built a house outside the city limits. Moreover, the Arbitrator termed as minor the only evidence of criminal activity at the officer’s home – a petty theft and the slashing of an above-ground swimming pool – and pointed out that most of the incidents took place three years prior to the waiver request. The Arbitrator also questioned why, if the officer was concerned about his safety, he did not report either incident to the Department and “took no action to protect his own safety and that of his family.”

City of Altoona, LAIG 6434 (Caldwell, 2006).