LONSBERRY: RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT FOR RPD EQUALS DEFUNDING


Lovely Warren has a plan to defund the Rochester Police Department.

               She’s going to strangle it for new hires by mandating an impossible residency requirement.

               Commencing as soon as she can get the state legislature to go along, new officers of the department will be required to be residents of the city of Rochester – at the time of their hiring, and for the duration of their careers.

               Currently, in the 700-plus member department, there are 47 officers who live in the city.

               There’s a reason for that.

               It’s because the city school district sucks, and because the city’s middle-class heart – of all races – moved to the suburbs in the last century. 

               In its police department, the city has several hundred well-paid people who would be great additions to any community. But the city loses the competition for those people for the same reason it loses the competition for strong middle-class residents in every employment category.

               More about that later.

               First, back to the defunding.

               Requiring something which goes contrary to the demonstrated wishes of 96 percent of your officers is not going to be popular. That’s probably why the mayor didn’t even notify the police union of her intentions.

               Hey, we all say, “Happy Labor Day” in our own way.

               Those 96 percent of officers who live outside the city don’t do so because of racism, no matter what the protesters at the Liberty Pole say. They do so because other factors important to them – mostly factors involving family and safety – make them.

               Those factors aren’t going to go away because Lovely says so.

               Nobody is going to send their kids to a crap school so they can be a Rochester cop and get spit on every day and be offered up as blood sacrifices to the Police Accountability Board and any number of marchers with their fists in the air.

               So what happens when she imposes her requirement is nobody applies to be a Rochester cop. And it’s not like that many are applying right now anyway. Cop hating is practiced nowhere with more zeal than in Rochester, especially on City Council and the evening news. People who grew up in the city aren’t eager to join a profession they’ve been taught to hate – thank you, city school board – and people from outside the city aren’t that eager to be crucified by the press and the activists, or shot down and laughed at by the folks on the corners.

               Every little kid dreams of growing up to be a Rochester cop and having his personnel record spread across the pages of the soon-to-be-former newspaper.

               But back to defunding the police department.

               With a career-long residency requirement, the Rochester Police Department will have to dramatically lower its hiring standards to get any applicants at all. That means far fewer and far less qualified officers will come on the department. As the currently employed officers retire, the number and ability of the remaining officers will decline.

               In time, she will hollow out the department, leaving it unavoidably smaller and less capable.

               But, as recent months indicate, crime won’t go down and policing will still be required.

               So what happens then?

               Rochester city streets will increasingly be patrolled by Monroe County sheriff’s deputies and state troopers.

               And what percent of them do you think live in the city?

               And what control does the mayor, the City Council or the Police Accountability Board have over them?

               Answer to both: Absolutely zero.

               Which brings us to the conclusion that, in the name of connecting officers with the community, she will create a circumstance where law enforcement truly will be an occupying force from outside the city and outside the supervision of elected city officials.

               Which is nuts.

               But mayors who are about to be indicted do the wackiest things.

               And this is wacky. It’s also disrespectful and undeserved. Using the police department and its officers as political punching bags is despicable. It’s the dog whistle of urban American politics. The notion of division between the police and “the community” is a narrative dangerous to both the police and the community, but beneficial to politicians as they face elections or arrests.

               And so on a sunny August day the mayor backstabbed the police department.

               As it has stood up to dramatically rising neighborhood violence with an aggressive and effective effort to take illegal guns off the streets, as it has served as a crossing guard for protestors who curse it, as it has been the whipping boy for every reporter, politician and activist in the city, the mayor condemns its officers by saying that the places where they live disqualify them from true and useful service.

               Hey, we all say, “Eff you,” in our own way.

               And yesterday, the mayor showed the police department hers.

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