Community debates BRPD residency requirements at Metro council
BATON ROUGE –The East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council's vote regarding BRPD residency requirements was automatically deferred after the council meeting ran past 8 p.m.
An overflow crowd choked the ninth floor of city hall Wednesday as the Metro Council discussed again whether police officers should be required to live closer to the city they serve. The Metro Council will meet again in two weeks.
A proposal to require officers to live inside city limits failed to win enough votes to even be considered by the council at a previous meeting. The new proposal would only allow the hiring of officers who live in East Baton Rouge Parish.
Council member Chauna Banks said the requirement is a natural way to build strong relationships between police officers and the community.
"During this troubling time, where there is absolutely a distrust between our law enforcement and our citizens, the only way to mend that bridge is to have police officers live, work, play and worship in our community," Banks said.
Opponents of the proposed residency requirements say it won't work.
"We are not supportive of a residency requirement. There are many reasons for that," Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. said. "It limits our recruitment. You are putting restrictions on officers. It's hard to find officers now, and you are putting another restriction on it."
Dabadie, who lives in Ascension Parish, said such a requirement would not improve the quality of police officers.
Residents who support the policy, a number of them speaking at Wednesday's meeting, said the requirement is a must. Many noted that similar proposals have been brought up over the years but never enacted.
"Here we are again in 2016 having the same conversation," one resident said. "In 36 years we are fighting the same battles. If it is not about race, what is it about?"
"It is so disgusting to be talking about things we fought for in the 1960s still in 2016," another resident said.
Public testimony extended more than an hour, with dozens of people taking the podium. Also in attendance: Alton Sterling's aunt Sandra Sterling, his cousin Aaron Banks, and friend Abdul Muflahi who recorded Sterling's death.