Editor, The Commercial:
I have to agree with Marjorie Roberts’ comments that the residency requirement for both officers and all department heads is a joke. Trying to legislate a tax base by requiring employees to live in the city is just foolish.
As to reporting for duty, I was a police officer in Pine Bluff for 22 years and a supervisor since before the ordinances were passed. I had officers that lived as far away as Jacksonville who were more reliable and prompt than many who lived here.
Now, let me shed some light on another aspect. I have always lived in Pine Bluff, but that was my choice. I knew of a number of excellent police department candidates who elected not to complete the application process because they did not wish to move. Forcing employees to reside in the city as a term of employment creates hardships for some and breeds resentment and affects morale. I resented it and it did not even affect me. Morale has been an issue at the police department for years. Unhappy workers just do not produce with the same drive and quality as content employees.
So I ask the city council, for once, do something FOR your people, not TO them. Rescind both of these useless ordinances and let us move on to important issues. Not the least of which is that no one is likely to sue for NOT being required to live here.
James M. Blackwood