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Government, Politics & Issues

Aldermen Criticize State For Meddling With St. Louis' Residency Requirements

St. Louis City Hall
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio
The St. Louis Board of Aldermen voted to condemn state involvement in legislating residency rules for city employees, including police officers.

Updated Jan. 31 with adoption by the full Board of Aldermen

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen has taken a stand against state action to change the city’s residency requirement for police officers.

“This is not a resolution concerning whether you are for or against the residency of the police,” said Alderwoman Sharon Tyus, D-1st Ward, the resolution’s lead sponsor. “This is a resolution opposing the state making that decision.”

Friday’s vote was 19-3, with seven aldermen not voting. The resolution is non-binding.

Mayor Lyda Krewson and Police Chief John Hayden say they need to allow officers to live outside the city to help with recruitment. The board last year rejected a citywide vote on changing the resident requirement for all city employees, including police officers. 

Alderwoman Megan Green, D-15th Ward, a candidate for state Senate, called out what she saw as the hypocrisy in Krewson asking for state action on this issue while also decrying state interference in other issues.

“We can’t pass stricter gun laws at a local level because the General Assembly has taken that authority away from us. We complain about not being able to give employees in this city greater benefits,” she said. “I think that it is a very, very dangerous precedent to set for our mayor to go above us and to willfully give away our local control over an issue.”

A spokesman for Krewson said the issue of officer residency is separate from minimum wage or gun safety.

Original story from Jan. 29

A committee of St. Louis aldermen approved a resolution Wednesday condemning the state’s involvement in residency rules for city employees.

The board voted last year against taking a citywide vote on whether city workers — including police officers — could live outside the city. 

But Mayor Lyda Krewson wants the state Legislature to eliminate the residency requirement. Krewson and police officials have said it would improve recruitment of officers.

The resolution, which passed 3-2, has no binding legal consequences. The full Board of Aldermen is expected to consider the resolution at its meeting Friday.

Alderwoman Sharon Tyus, D-1st Ward, proposed the resolution because she said she thinks the state shouldn’t interfere in city business. 

“I wish Jefferson City would stop doing that,” Tyus said. “Many of the people in Jefferson City often talk about states’ rights, but they seem to ignore we have a local right. And so for me, especially being a charter city, this was our right to decide where the police live.”

Alderwoman Carol Howard, D-14th Ward, voted against the resolution, saying the city needs to change its staffing practices across multiple departments. 

“If we continue on the path we’re on, we’re going to continue to deliver less services for more taxes,” she said.

Police officers can move outside the city after seven years, although there is some question about whether that applies to officers hired after the department returned to local control in 2013.  Since 2018, there have also been 50 residency waivers available for police academy recruits. But according to Alderwoman Megan Green, D-15th Ward, only one officer has requested such a waiver.

Aldermen said that if the state Legislature eliminates the requirement, they aren’t aware of any way the city could change the decision.

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