Despite claims by Mayor Bill de Blasio that “more and more” NYPD officers live in the city they serve, new figures provided by the NYPD show that a majority of uniformed officers actually live outside of New York City. The numbers reflect a shift from four years ago, when a majority of cops lived in the five boroughs.
According to the police department, 51 percent of uniformed officers—which works out to 18,360 cops—currently live outside the city, with the rest having addresses in one of the five boroughs. The NYPD did not provide a breakdown by county.
Data provided to Gothamist in 2016 showed that 58 percent of officers lived in New York City.
“We know two crucial things about today’s NYPD—it is a majority people of color, and it is more and more New York City residents,” de Blasio said at a press conference on Friday. “My understanding is we’re getting close to a breakeven point in terms of folks who live in the city versus suburbs, but I want to get the exact numbers.”
Several weeks ago, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea claimed that “well over 50 percent” of the police department live in the city, but that percentage includes the NYPD’s 19,000 civilian employees, who unlike uniformed officers, are required by law to live in the city.
A spokesperson for the mayor did not respond a request for comment asking for clarification on the mayor’s comments given the data.
The NYPD’s Patrol Guide states that officers can reside in Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam, Suffolk, and Nassau counties. Officers must provide a physical home address to the agency’s operations coordinator and a landline or cell phone number connected to the address as proof of residence. Commanding officers are expected to ensure officers abide by these regulations.
NYPD officers are prohibited from working in the precinct they reside in, though 4 percent of officers received an exemption from that rule, according to the 2016 data.
A residency requirement for NYPD officers has been debated over the years, with state Senator Kevin Parkerintroducing the most recent legislation calling for such a requirement for new officers hired after December 31st, 2020.
“It’s critical that we cultivate better community connections between police and residents,” Parker said in a statement, when introducing the bill last month. “We have to ensure that officers who are deployed to communities throughout New York City have a better understanding and respect for the culture of those living there. Police officers who live in the city they serve and belong to that community, are more inclined to be connected to the residents and their jobs, beyond a paycheck.”
Last month, Mayor de Blasio expressed skepticism about residency requirements for police officers.
“A lot of NYPD officers who happen to be people of color are living in the suburbs for purely economic reasons, because they can’t find enough affordable housing here,” the mayor said. “We should have a real public debate about it. But we should be mindful that it’s not as easy an equation in New York city as it is in a lot of other places because of the pure cost of housing.”