City residency requirement eased for civilian police employees

St. Louis – The state board that oversees the St. Louis Police Department Wednesday voted to allow the department's civilian employees to live outside the city limits.

The new rule allows the nearly 500 non-uniformed police department workers to leave the city once they have seven years of service.

That's the same residency requirement that uniformed police officers have had for more than a year.

Lucille Elson is president of the union that represents non-uniformed workers. She said the change was long overdue.

"It's the freedom, to have the freedom of choice to live where you want to live," Elson said.

But Mayor Francis Slay, who sits on the Board of Police Commissioners voted against the change. He also unsuccessfully tried to delay the board's decision until after the November election.

That's when city voters will decide the issue in a non-binding referendum. Slay said the police board should have waited and taken public opinion into account.

"I think the people of St. Louis, because people feel strongly one way or the other, should weigh in on that," Slay said. "I know the last time it was on the ballot, voters overwhelmingly opposed lifting residency."

The residency rule for officers and civilians was first put into place in 1973.