Jackson has repealed its residency requirement for new police officers and firefighters.
The council approved amending the city’s residency ordinance last week, at the request of Jackson Police Chief Lee Vance.
Vance told the council previously that the ordinance needed to be repealed, to improve the department’s ability to recruit officers.
He said a shortage of officers had put the department in “crisis mode” and that one way to increase its ranks was to repeal the ordinance.
“We had a DUI unit. We no longer have a DUI unit,” he told the council at the time. “We had a quality of life unit. We had to shut that down and put those officers on the street. We had a unit of bailiffs. We had eight in that unit, now we have four because (we) had to send those officers back to patrol.”
The amendments included lifting the requirements for all police officers and firefighters with a salary of less than $40,000 a year, who reside no greater than 20 miles outside the city limits.
The amendment was approved on a 4-2 vote, with Councilmen Kenneth Stokes and De’Keither Stamps voting in opposition.
Stamps opposed it, in part, because of the condition the department was in when the ordinance was initially passed. “People have forgotten where we were and where we still are. We had officers living in Hattiesburg, Greenville and Port Gibson who were driving their police vehicles home each day.”
Stamps didn’t know if those officers were still employed with the department, but pointed to the fact that 70 percent of the department’s current officers still reside outside the capital city.
The ordinance takes effect in 30 days.