Memphis Police Dept. director continues push to change police residency requirements

Rallings on Residency Requirements

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Should Memphis police officers be allowed to live outside of Shelby County? That's the debate playing out in the Memphis City Council.

The council will take up the issue again during the public safety and homeland security committee meeting Tuesday.

Memphis Police Department Director Mike Rallings isn’t letting up on his push to change the residency requirements for Memphis police.

Rallings sat down with WMC Action News 5 Monday to share why he believes Memphis police officers should be allowed to live outside Shelby County up to two hours away from Memphis as the proposal before the city calls for.

He says changing the requirements will increase the pool of police officer candidates.

"The fact that officers risk their lives every day is enough for me. I don't care where they live,” said Rallings.

City Council considering loosening residency requirements for Memphis police, firefighters

He says MPD will end the year with about 2,100 officers but will need 330 officers next year, when factoring in attrition. Rallings says the problem is only going to get worse.

"To get back to our 2011 staffing, we’ll need to hire 1,000 police officers over the next four years to get back to 2,500 police officers,” he said.

Rallings says right now Memphis has three different residency requirements, depending on when officers were hired.

"It doesn’t make sense,” said Rallings. “One policy says that you can live within two hours. Another policy says you have to live within Shelby County. Another policy says you can live within 20 miles. We need to clean all that up.”

Not everyone is on board with changing things. Last month, council members Martavious Jones and Cheyenne Johnson shared their concerns.

"Why should we let these high paying middle-class jobs leave our city?” asked Jones.

"If they can’t believe the officers are living next door are living within their community that hurts the image the police and fire departments are trying to promote,” said Johnson.

If the City Council approves the proposed referendum, it will be up to voters to decide next November.

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