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Pittsburgh voters to decide in November on police residency requirement

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 1:57 p.m.

Pittsburgh City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday to allow voters to decide in a November referendum whether police officers and other city employees should be required to live within the city limits.

A city lawyer advised council members before the vote that they had the legal authority to take such action.

The Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1 has challenged the residency requirement for city workers, arguing it hinders recruiting and limits school choice options for officers' families, among other things. The union challenged the requirement after wording in a state law was amended stating that officers “may” reside in the city limits instead of “shall” live in the city.

An arbitration panel heard FOP testimony and is scheduled to hear the city's side in October.

A spokeswoman for Councilman Ricky Burgess, who sponsored the legislation, said Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has 10 days to sign the measure. It then would go to the Allegheny County elections office to be placed on the fall ballot.

Burgess and black leaders have argued that allowing officers to live outside the city would only widen a divide that exists between officers and the neighborhoods they serve.

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