Rebuffing the city’s police union, Pittsburgh residents Tuesday overwhelmingly backed a home rule charter referendum requiring officers and other city personnel to live within the city’s limits.
The matter is already in arbitration after a state law change last year opened the door for the Fraternal Order of Police to challenge the requirement, and it seems destined for a court battle next.
In the meantime city voters sent the message that they want the residency requirements, which go back more than a century, to stay in place.
The requirement has been part of city law going back to 1902, but the police union has struggled against it, saying it negatively impacts recruitment of police officers and their families.
City Councilman Ricky Burgess led the effort in July to add the referendum to Tuesday’s ballots, to further bolster arguments against the change.
FOP president Michael LaPorte could not be reached for comment.
Mayor-elect Bill Peduto is seeking a middle ground. While he supports residency — and wants it out of the arbitration process — he has signaled he would trade it to the FOP for givebacks on police overhaul, such as giving the mayor more power to fire problem officers.
Other public safety unions, such as for city firefighters, favor the requirements.