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Pittsburgh Officers Win Right to Live Outside City

For more than a century, Pittsburgh police officers have had to live within city limits, but a draft arbitration award Wednesday would change that.

The award, which has yet to be signed and made official, would allow police officers to live within 25 air miles of Downtown -- specifically as measured from the City-County Building, according to police union attorney Bryan Campbell.

Mr. Campbell said he learned of the award this morning.

Union officials believe the award will be a boost for the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, allowing it to increase officer retention and improve recruitment.

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1 has long argued that the requirement, which dates to 1902, should be waived to gain a wider pool of recruits. Union officials also have supported allowing officers to send their children to suburban schools.

Mayor Bill Peduto is on record saying he would like to have officers live in the city.

However, the mayor also has said he is willing to trade the residency requirement in return for a wider ability from the union to fire officers who get in trouble. State law often hamstrings the ability of police brass to fire officers and have the termination stick.

Last year a change in state law opened the door for challenges to the residency requirement.

But in November city residents overwhelmingly backed a home rule charter referendum requiring officers and other city personnel to live within the city's limits.

Mr. Peduto issued a statement this afternoon: "We have been in contact with the arbitrator and understand that while the award has not been signed, he will likely not be deciding in the city's favor. We have spoken to our outside labor counsel as well as our city attorneys, and we are reviewing our legal options."

The arbitration panel includes Mr. Campbell, who was appointed by the FOP; Joseph Quinn, who was appointed by the city; and a neutral arbitrator, John Skonier.

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service