JAMESTOWN – A resolution calling for a law to establish a five-year residency requirement for law enforcement officers hired on Jan. 1, 2021 and beyond was verbally amended to 10 years during a Jamestown City Council Work Session Monday evening.
Several members of the Council, including retired Jamestown Police Officer Jeff Russell, say that officers should live in Jamestown during their careers for an extended period of time in order to be more involved and in tune with the community. Russell says he became “frustrated” with officers working in the City before leaving for their dwellings outside of Jamestown.
“I did witness that on the job. It was very frustrating for me, as a citizen, to see officers that never lived a single day in the City, that they’d take their paycheck and drive back to Westfield, Fredonia, or whatever,” Russell said. “It was even more frustrating when I would see these individuals move up in the ranks, so now you’re talking about making more money and taking more money and going back to their communities.”
“I think this is a good thing.”
Russell also provided the point of view that those officers expressed to him during his time with JPD. He says officers were concerned about running into suspects in the community following their arrests.
“A common argument officers was that they worried about arresting people, incarcerating people, and then running into these people later on,” Russell said. Russell says these concerns have escalated with the recent rise of a nationwide movement calling for the defunding of law enforcement, along with other forms of police reform.
Councilwoman Vickeye James (D, Ward 3) says that argument is a “poor excuse” to choose not to invest in the community that Jamestown officers serve. Councilwoman Marie Carrubba (D, Ward 4) added that a five-year requirement would be a “minimal” requirement.
Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist, who was previously an attorney, provided legal insight into New York State law regarding the adaptation of a residential requirement for law enforcement. He says that the Council would be able to arbitrarily pass a resolution into law since there’s less than 200 officers.
Sundquist says that the next step is to have Elliott Raimondo, Corporation Counsel, re-prepare the law so that the requirement would be 10 years. A public hearing would need to be scheduled for a later date.
A final vote would take place after the meeting is completed and comments are submitted.