Fri April 5, 2013
Police, Firefighters Ask For End To Residency Requirements
Milwaukee police and firefighters made an intense emotional pitch to lawmakers Thursday to end local residency requirements for municipal workers even as critics of the move warned it could cripple the city.
The Milwaukee Police and Firefighter Unions have wanted to end their city's residency requirement for decades and Governor Walker's proposed budget would grant them their wish. Joy DeCristoforo's husband is a Milwaukee policeman. DeCristoforo, who is also a police officer, says they won't have kids as long as they're forced to live in the city.
“I don't believe that we should be forced to live next to the very people that we serve, for the very reason that there's a possibility that we have arrested these folks.”
Others worry what a mass exodus of police and firefighters could mean for Milwaukee's property values and public safety. Milwaukee resident Ryan Rice says he lives in a nice neighborhood and pays high taxes to support officers' salaries: “I'm willing to pay that, what I ask in return is that they stay in the city to help bolster my neighborhood.”
While other unions consider the governor a sworn enemy, the Milwaukee Police and Firefighters endorsed Walker in both of his elections. Milwaukee Alderman Michael Murphy was among those to suggest that's the reason the governor put this in his budget: “It only has to do with, unfortunately, payback. And we find it very unfair.”
But Milwaukee Firefighter Union president David Seager said the city's employees would not be the only ones affected. “It just needs to be reiterated that it's for all municipal employees across the state of Wisconsin.”
And that's exactly what worries some local officials, including Greendale Village President John Hermes. Greendale requires employees to live within 15 miles of the city in case of emergencies. It's a decision Hermes says should rest with communities like his, not state government.