Data-driven news blog FiveThirtyEight reports that only 12% of Seattle’s police force calls the city home ranking it among the worst big cities in America for the measure. You’ll note that the department’s black officers are much more likely to call the city home:
In light of the continuing protests in Ferguson, FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver discusses the significance of where police officers live:
In Ferguson, Missouri, where protests continue following the shooting of a teenager by a police officer this month, more than two-thirds of the civilian population is black. Only 11 percent of the police force is. The racial disparity is troubling enough on its own, but it’s also suggestive of another type of misrepresentation. Given Ferguson’s racial gap, it’s likely that many of its police officers live outside city limits.
If so, Ferguson would have something in common with most major American cities. In about two-thirds of the U.S. cities with the largest police forces, the majority of police officers commute to work from another town.
In 2011, I helped create this map for SeattleCrime.com showing where Seattle Police officers call home around the region:
At the time, the McGinn administration was floating ideas around residency requirements for SPD officers. In the continued fallout from Ferguson, it will be interesting to see if the push is renewed.
UPDATE: Here’s a note we received from an East Precinct officer who has asked to remain anonymous:
A lot more officers than 12% live in the city. Many of us, including myself, use an address of relatives or a PO Box to receive our mail and city correspondence. As far as mandating where an officer lives, that has been ruled illegal . An employer can’t force that issue in Washington.
The officer says that on his squad of seven, four officers live in the city — but only one lists a local mailing address.