Residency Change Debated for Wis. Firefighters

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee aldermen are criticizing a Senate bill that would change residency requirements for the city's police officers and firefighters. "This is a raid on the best incomes in the city of Milwaukee," Milwaukee Alderman Terry...


MILWAUKEE --

Milwaukee aldermen are criticizing a Senate bill that would change residency requirements for the city's police officers and firefighters.

"This is a raid on the best incomes in the city of Milwaukee," Milwaukee Alderman Terry Witkowski said.

A group of Milwaukee aldermen respond to a Republican Senate bill that would end Milwaukee's requirement that police officers and firefighters live in the city.

"This is just a huge power grab by suburban legislators to stick the city of Milwaukee's local control," Milwaukee Alderman Michael Murphy said.

Senate Bill 30's altered residency requirement would allow the police officers and firefighters to live in the county in which the city is located, in this case Milwaukee County, and any county that is adjacent to Milwaukee County.

Alderman Bob Bauman said it will damage the city.

"The close integration between police and fire personnel and the community they're policing is absolutely critical to them being effective. So they know their neighbors. They know the community," Bauman said.

One of the bill's sponsors is a retired Racine police officer.

"These guys should not be secondary citizens. They should have the ability to have their family raised where they want to raise their family. They're committed to the community," state Sen. Van Wanggaard said.

The firefighters union said this is about freedom to live where you want to.

"I love the city of Milwaukee. But I would really like to have the liberty and the freedom to have the choice," Milwaukee Professional Firefighters President Dave Seager said.

Only one other major city in the nation has residency rules as strict as Milwaukee, and that's Boston.

Milwaukee's residency ordinance covers all city employees.

The Senate bill could move forward next week.

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