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Why Do Only 30 Minneapolis Cops Live Within the City?

Compared to departments in other big cities, the number of MPD officers who live within city limits is way low.

Compared to departments in other big cities, the number of MPD officers who live within city limits is way low.

Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis President John Delmonico has heard the argument for years. He didn't buy it then. He's not buying it now.

"I certainly don't believe for a moment that if a cop doesn't live in the same city where he works that he's not going to give 100 percent," says the lieutenant, who's been the union chief since 1999. "To me it's a non-issue and the one people bring up because it's easy to point at."

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Delmonico is speaking about the fact that fewer than 30 Minneapolis cops -- out of an estimated 850 -- live within the City of Lakes.

Compare that to Jacksonville, Florida, where more than 80 percent of the officers reside inside city boundaries. In Boston, the number is 50 percent.

The national average for big cities is roughly 40 percent.

"I don't think you can point to just one factor," says Delmonico, "although economics like housing prices and property taxes certainly do play into it. For some cops who have kids, they don't want to work in the same place their kids go to school. For others, it can be that they've settled into one of the other cities and they don't want to move around.

"For those who want more cops to live in the city where they work, that's fine. But it's not fair to say they don't do as good a job because they don't live there."

Cops in the Twin Cities haven't been held to city residency requirements since 1999. However, a bill was proposed earlier this year to change the rule.

"There's nothing wrong with wanting to get more cops to live in the city where they work," says Delmonico. "But the question I want to know is: What's the goal? Is it so cops know their neighborhoods better? I know plenty who are spending way more time in the city working 40 hours a week plus overtime than they do at home. Or is the goal better community relations? If it is, I would say we we have a better relationship now with our communities than we've had in a long time."

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