Pittsburgh's police union on Friday endorsed Mark DeSantis for Mayor, but the real impact of such a move remains sketchy at best.
First and foremost, the Fraternal Order of Police needs to make a SIGNIFICANT financial contribution to DeSantis immediately for the "endorsement" to mean anything other than news-cycle hyperbole.
The official line is the FOP prefers DeSantis because of a need for more equipment and a secure pension fund. Most notably is the "right" to live outside of the city.
According to regulations, every police officer employed by Pittsburgh needs to live within the city limits. For years, officers have complained that they must run into perps they've collared while enjoying time with their families at ice cream parlors, movie houses and the neighborhood watering hole. Apparently, every criminal lives within city limits and doesn't take in the latest Hollywood has to offer at Homestead's waterfront, Southland's dingy cinemas or whatever the name is for the primary movie theater in the North Hills.
Oddly, many local conservative pundits, like who-knows-what-he-really-does Bill Green think that having the choice to live outside the city is blissful.
Fact of the matter is, largely because of 70-years of Democrats in power, most city neighborhoods have deteriorated to the point that even the highly-paid police officers want out.
Real estate listings would explode to the tune of nearly 1,000 homes if officers were permitted to live outside Pittsburgh borders. Neighborhoods like Brookline, Crafton, Carrick and Bon Air, among others, would lose the "lots of police officers live here" selling points. Who would purchase these homes that police officers would abandon in mass?
Some officers do own uninhabitable shacks or other "shadow addresses" and commute to far away lands. However, this isn't the norm. Many live in their communities and gripe endlessly instead of making their neighborhoods a better place to live "off the clock." Some are active in their communities. Those "leaders" would hopefully stay.
Sure, police officers should be allowed to live outside the city. They just don't have to be employed by the city of Pittsburgh. Good police officers who live in outlying areas or suburbs can either remain good police officers and make $9 an hour, or they could be fantastic leaders for the city of Pittsburgh and move here.
Likewise, Pittsburgh's police officers are more than welcome to move to crime-free suburbs like Ross Township, Monroeville and Wilkinsburg and make vastly less than their "enormous compared to their average neighbor" salaries.
More oddly, I agree with Interim Mayor Luke Ravenstahl who supports the requirement that all city employees should live within its borders. Otherwise, nothing should be able to stop Diana Irey, the cutest Washington County Commissioner ever, from being Pittsburgh's next Mayor (after DeSantis wins on November 6th).
Pittsburgh's teacher's union somehow got their residency requirement lifted a few years ago. Now, the vast majority of those employees trod into town from Cranberry, Butler County, well before the usual rush hour traffic begins. They spend their "tremendously high compared to their former Pittsburgh neighbor" salaries in bistros and outlet malls that are now closer to their yuppie cul-de-sacs.
DeSantis said that the police department should be able to hire anyone they want into the department. That's absolutely true.
They should just have to follow the law and reside in the city.