Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 27, 2015

Most Police Don’t Live in Cities They Serve

Nate Silver: “In Ferguson, Missouri, where protests continue following the shooting of a teenager by a police officer this month, more than two-thirds of the civilian population is black. Only 11 percent of the police force is. The racial disparity is troubling enough on its own, but it’s also suggestive of another type of misrepresentation. Given Ferguson’s racial gap, it’s likely that many of its police officers live outside city limits.”

“If so, Ferguson would have something in common with most major American cities. In about two-thirds of the U.S. cities with the largest police forces, the majority of police officers commute to work from another town.”

“On average, among the 75 U.S. cities with the largest police forces, 60 percent of police officers reside outside the city limits… But the share varies radically from city to city. In Chicago, 88 percent of police officers live within the city boundaries — and in Philadelphia, 84 percent do. But only 23 percent do so in Los Angeles. Just 12 percent of Washington police live in the District — and only 7 percent of officers in Miami live within city limits. These differences reflect a combination of three major factors: a city’s racial composition, whether it has a residency requirement for police and its geography.”

“On average among the 75 cities, 49 percent of black police officers and 47 percent of Hispanic officers live within the city limits. But just 35 percent of white police officers do.”

  • bruce lorraine

    Can you really blame the white cops for not living in the cities they work in?
    Number one would be a security issue especially if you have childrenand with

    metropolitan cities being pretty much a cesspool nowadays if they were on fire who would want to put it out?

    • disqusux

      Care to explain what you mean by “a security issue”? You think no cops live in Ferguson, fool?

      • bruce lorraine

        Security issue for their families asswwipe.

      • Carroll Barber

        The jack-booted thugs know their neighbors no longer trust them. They have turned into scumbags. Don’t thread on me cop boy.

    • embo66

      Oooh, the Big Bad City, eh, Bruce?

      Unfortunately your assessment is woefully behind the times. These days that “cesspool” you refer to can be found just as often in suburban or rural areas: drugs (esp. meth and heroin), crime, illegal immigration, etc.

      But go ahead and stay in your mental rural hamlet, where all “real Americans” doubtless reside. Just don’t get mad when the Big Bad Cities eclipse your lot altogether.

      • bruce lorraine

        Woefully behind the times? Go tell it to the folks who live in war zones like Chicago, Detroit, Oakland, etc.

  • embo66

    Nate forgot one: Some cities have property values that are far too expensive to own, possibly even to rent, on a cop’s salary. That said, we really ought to try harder to make “community policing” real, i.e., conducted by members of the community.

  • Marc N

    Consider how underpaid most police officers are and that they move from department to department to move up professionally. Look at cost of living when officers do not live within city limits. Also look at the extended urban areas that surround these cities that are considered extended parts of those cities. Much ado about nothing. Also the reporter said “Given Ferguson’s racial gap, it’s likely that many of its police officers live outside city limits” … so this is just a wishful, world view statement and indicative of not actually being able to state a fact. Just more lazy journalism. Stating a “likely” opinion is another example of creating a strawman argument

  • Marc N

    Hummm … if we question the motives and actions of some police officers because they do not live in the cities they server, perhaps we should also question the motives and veracity and competency of reporters and journalists who do not live in the areas in which they report or comment.

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