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Many cops do not live in the cities they police, should they?


The August 9 shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown by Ferguson police, and subsequent shooting of another black male by white police only miles away in St. Louis has raised a number of questions about how police relate to the communities they serve.

U.S. Census data shows that many urban police do not live where they work, and a majority of those opting for the suburbs are white cops. Would forcing those cops to live where they work change how they behave on the job?

First pointed out by FiveThirtyEight, data from the 19 biggest police departments, plus St. Louis, shows that a significant number of cops commute like other officer workers. The cities they work in are their offices, not their homes.

Less than half of all white cops (45 percent) in New York, by far the nation's largest police force, live within the city's five boroughs. But 77 percent of all black cops live in the city. Just under two-thirds (62 percent) of all officers reside in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens or Staten Island.

Nearly all Chicago cops, 88 percent, live within the city. But among other large metropolises, the drop-off becomes much more pronounced.

Only 15 percent of white LAPD officers live in Los Angeles. A meager six percent of Washington, D.C. police live within the capitol. In nearly all instances, minority police tend to live in their cities more often than their white counterparts.

That trend breaks only in San Francisco and Atlanta.

Twenty-six percent of all white San Francisco cops live inside the city compared to 19 percent of black officers. Nineteen percent of white Atlanta police live in the city and only 10 percent of black Atlanta cops call Georgia's biggest city home.

The most staggering difference occurs in Detroit, where only eight percent of white officers live compared to 57 percent of black police.

An AOL chart below shows the disparities in the 19 biggest police departments in the city, plus St. Louis. In many cases, it isn't even close.

This difference may or may not lead to the racial tensions seen in many cities, but it is worth considering. Especially in Ferguson, a city where the population is more than 70 percent black but only 11 percent of its cops are.

Related links:
OKC cop accused of rape, sexual assault of at least 7 women during traffic stops
Timeline: Michael Brown's death and the chaotic weeks in Ferguson that followed
St. Louis police identify the black male shot dead by cops only miles from Ferguson

Join the discussion

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ohringen August 23 2014 at 2:58 PM

Wow! I don't blame anyone for not wanting to live in that town of looters, and robbers. These are lawless people!

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6 replies
buddwhyzr August 23 2014 at 4:24 PM

Damn few people work in the same city/town where they live. Ridiculous article.

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2 replies
rfergusono buddwhyzr August 23 2014 at 6:00 PM

I totally agree! Does that mean if you don't live in a ghetto you can't be a cop there?

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2 replies
calderasf rfergusono August 23 2014 at 7:42 PM

there is no American city that is 100% ghetto usually only a neighborhood get real

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jwemrw rfergusono August 23 2014 at 10:10 PM

Wyatt Earp could not have cleaned up Dodge City if he lived in Wichita. And Elliott Ness did not move to Detroit to convict Al Capone in Chicago. Do you knuckle draggers ever put any mileage on your brain cells?

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mecnsd buddwhyzr August 23 2014 at 7:41 PM

And, what happens if the officer gets moved to a different area...he/she is supposed to pack up and move with each promotion or transfer. Idiotic!

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rfergusono August 23 2014 at 5:59 PM

The headline reads "Many cops do not live in the cities they police, should they?" Well gosh would you prefer to live in a ghetto in order to be a policeman there? What a stupid article!

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3 replies
merlin9394 August 23 2014 at 5:43 PM

so does this extend to those who protest too?

Because if only protesters from Ferguson were allowed , THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NO RIOTS

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4 replies
K9BLUEMAN August 23 2014 at 3:25 PM

Years ago it was a general policy and police and firefighters live within the city limits for which they worked.
Namely because of jurisdiction for which their Authority stayed within city limits. Now that is changed. Officers are now State certified so their jurisdiction extend well beyond. Those rules have changed for a number of reasons. When Officers are off duty, they want to take a break, Relax, and enoy their time off.
Especially if that city is a high crime area that they do not want to subject their family to. Keep in mind also that Officers send bad guys to jail and they do not need to make it easy for those bad guys to easliy track them down and wreak vengeance on their families and homes. This also prevents familiarity and nepostism between Officers and the citizens in the cities for which they patrol which often can happen when they live in that city.

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6 replies
evnsaffl August 23 2014 at 8:05 PM

TV programs should not lose sight of Michael Brown's state of mind immediately before he was shot. ===Nowhere in the news lately does it continue to say that Brown had just come from a convenience store where he had committed strong-arm robbery against a helpless convenience clerk.==== Brown stole cigarillos from that store, then the huge, towering Brown menaced and shoved the tiny clerk who valiantly tried to defend his store.==That was the ugly mood Brown was in as he first faced the policeman who then shot him. Did Brown threaten the police officer?

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4 replies
gbar879 August 23 2014 at 6:54 PM

Should teachers be required to send their children to the schools where they teach? Cops, just like everyone else in this country should have the right to live where ever they choose, no matter where they work.

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2 replies
donndvll gbar879 August 24 2014 at 12:22 AM


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rexandsnoopy gbar879 August 24 2014 at 2:31 AM

Teachers should be "happy" to learn a lesson... from their peers... they should PRACTICE WHAT THEY PREACH!!! ... or TEACH!!!

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chuckhalper August 23 2014 at 7:04 PM

Just do what Hillary did. Buy a home in September 1999 in NY, soak up the culture for a few (long) weeks, and run for senator. Live where you serve, eh?

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BroPower August 24 2014 at 7:25 AM

Ask any city worker,
If you work in the sewer
would you want to live in it?
How about having/raising
your family in it?
These people who MADE their sewer environment should have to live in it.
The people trying to improve your sewer life should NOT...

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ram4131 August 23 2014 at 4:33 PM

I can only imagine what a 2014 Norman Rockwell painting would look like today.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
3 replies
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