LINDEN—Responding to a rash of home invasion robberies and burglaries, city officials met with residents Monday and one councilman suggested that crime rates would be lower if more police lived in town.
“Police and other municipal employees responsible for public safety should be required to live in the city,” said Councilman Derek Armstead, who noted that most of the city’s uniformed officers live out of the community that are paid to protect.
Armstead said there is already bipartisan support from Gov. Christie and Senate President Stephen Sweeney among other political leaders, for a bill proposed in the Legislature last month.
“It is very simple,” said state Sen. Donald Norcross, the bill’s sponsor. “If you want a paycheck from New Jersey taxpayers, you should have to live here, pay your taxes here, and be part of your community.”
Armstead addressed the issue after a meeting attended by Police Chief Michael Boyle at Jersey Lanes bowling alley held in response to at least three home invasion robberies where a suspect wearing a police-type badge on a chain around his neck has forced his way into the homes.
Police described the suspect as a black male, clean-shaven, bald head, age 30s, medium to muscular build, wearing black or dark-colored T-shirt and dark pants to give the appearance that he is a law enforcement officer.
“Residents who earn an average of $37,000 a year are paying salaries in excess of $100,000 to people who don’t share a vested interest in the community,” said Armstead. “Residency rules have long been credited with helping neighborhoods stay intact, keeping government workers and their middle-class incomes from leaving.”
Armstead said Norcross introduced the proposed law because eight percent of the state’s 78,383 employees lived outside New Jersey in 2008.
“I would be happy if 92 percent of the city workers lived here,” said Armstead. “Unfortunately, a 1972 New Jersey statute exempts emergency workers, such as police and fire personnel, from any residency requirement ordinance.”
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