PITTSBURGH, PA – Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl on Wednesday vowed to oppose any efforts to reverse a long-standing policy requiring police officers to live in city limits.
Ravenstahl’s comments were made one day after the state House passed legislation allowing Pittsburgh to waive residency requirements for its police officers.
The bill permits council and the mayor to decide whether police must live within the city limits. Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to sign the bill.
“We’ll do everything we can to fight this and make sure those cops remain city residents,” Ravenstahl said. “I will in no way, shape or form support anything that allows police officers or any city employee to not live in the city.”
The mayor added that such a move would “open Pandora’s box” and induce similar requests from other city employees.
Council members offered mixed opinions.
Councilman Bill Peduto, a likely candidate for mayor next year, said he sees advantages to cops living elsewhere. The main one, he said, is keeping them on the force. Too many have left for other jobs because of the residency requirement, he said.
“I would rather let officers have the ability to live outside the city rather than lose them to suburban police forces,” he said.
Council President Darlene Harris noted that city ordinance requires all employees to live in the city. She said she opposed a similar measure that permitted teachers to move out.
“I live in the city, and I would expect all our employees would live in the city,” Harris said. “I would expect that anyone who works for the residents of the city would live in the city.”
Mike LaPorte, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1, which represents 895 officers and recruits plus retired officers, said he could not comment before confirming Ravenstahl’s position.
The FOP remains committed to seeking a waiver of the requirement, LaPorte said. It would give police a nonmonetary incentive to remain on the force and allow them to send their children to suburban schools, he said.