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