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Syracuse council renews call to change residency laws for cops, firefighters

Ken Hawkins

Syracuse city councilors are hoping to convince state-level lawmakers to change a law that allows police, firefighters and sanitation workers to live outside the cities they work in.

A non-binding resolution issued by the council comes after they learned only about three dozen of the city’s roughly 450 police officers actually live in the city. Firefighters and sanitation workers are also exempt, though a higher percentage of those employees live in the city.

That results in tens of millions of dollars in city salaries leaving the city, the council estimates.

"We all know there’s no magic wand that’s going to come in and bring us this overwhelming revenue," said councilor Helen Hudson. "I feel if you work in a municipality, you should live in that municipality."

Hudson says having cops live in Syracuse would improve the city.

"It would stabilize communities," she said. "Because I do know that if I have a police officer living down the street from me, I’m going to feel a little more secure. And I think it would change the way the culture is looked at."

Similar cries have been made to Albany before with no success. Only the state legislature could change the law and eliminate the exception. City teachers are also allowed to live outside city limits, but other city employees much live within Syracuse.