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Gibbons Favors State Law Abolishing Residency Requirements for Police

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District Attorney General Bill Gibbons, a declared candidate for governor in the 2010 Republican primary, on Wednesday professed sympathy with the Memphis city council’s action in liberalizing residency requirements for new Memphis police recruits and said that, if elected, he would support legislation to abolish any and all residency restrictions for police hires statewide.

“I’m in favor of eliminating any residency requirement,” Gibbons told a brunch meeting of the Republican Women of Purpose at Ridgeway Country Club. Noting that the compromise council ordinance which passed last week would allow applications from persons living within 20 miles of the Shelby County line, Gibbons commented, “I’m saying, ‘Go far beyond that.’”

Concerning a bill introduced last month by Germantown state Rep. Brian Kelsey that would abolishing residency requirements for Tennessee police, Gibbons said, “It has merit.”

And, while Gibbons expressed confidence that the Memphis ordinance would withstand ongoing legal challenges, he said that state action would make such litigation moot. “It is possible to address that with a state law to provide there should be no residency requirement for a law-enforcement official.”

Gibbons said a state law would take precedence over any local action, including a prior referendum limiting residency of Memphis police to Memphis and Shelby County.

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