Councilwoman renews call for police residency requirement
BATON ROUGE - Almost 900 officers are on the Baton Rouge Police force, but according to Metro-Councilmember Chauna Banks, 45 percent of them don't live in East Baton Rouge Parish.
"During this troubling time where there's absolutely a distrust between our law enforcment 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.
Banks is supporting a proposal that would require new hires to BRPD to live within the parish. She believes that police should live in the community that they serve.
"If people see law enforcement as mentors in our community, parents in our schools, the person we see at the local store, then they are less likely to see law enforcement as an enemy," Banks said. "And law enforcement are less likely to see out citizens as a threat as well."
But some residents say police officers should be able to live where they want, just like any other employee who works for the City of Baton Rouge.
Parrish Smith comes from a family of first responders. Her two brothers work for the Baton Rouge Fire Department and her father is a retired Louisiana State Police trooper.
"I think they have the right to live outside of the parish if other city workers are allowed to do so as well," Smith said.
She says residency should not stop the city from hiring good cops.
"They are putting their lives on the line for us everyday," Smith said. "I feel like they're willing to put their lives on the line for us, then we should be willing to hire them."
Banks says BRPD only requires officers to have a high school diploma. She says there should be more than enough qualified high school graduates to fill the ranks of the police department.