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MO Senate Committee Studies Police Residency

By Kevin Lavery, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – In testimony before an interim Missouri senate committee, St. Louis Police Officers' Association president Ron Oldani said the city's residency requirement has contributed to the exodus of 318 officers from the force in the last three years:

"Two hundred of those officers left before retirement," Oldani said. "In the vast majority of cases, they cited residency, lack of affordable housing and high education costs as reasons for leaving."

In defending the rule, police commissioner Col. Mike Quinn said while having a police officer living in a particular neighborhood does not inherently make that neighborhood safer, the issue goes deeper than just residence.

"It's an understanding of what it means to be part of the community," Quinn said. "To know certain neighborhoods within the city are inherently dangerous, and certain neighborhoods within the city are inherently safe."

State Sen. Sarah Steelman (R)-Rolla, said she's encouraged by the dialogue between several groups that may mean the state won't have to intervene in the issue:

"What I'm hearing from the local people is that the St. Louis Police (Officers) Association and the commission and the mayor's office are willing to work together to solve this problem and come to some resolution where everyone might have to give up a little something, but they might get a little something in return," Steelman said.

The St. Louis police board recently enacted a waiver program for officers who care for family members with long-term disabilities who feel they cannot get adequate treatment in the city.

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