Friday, February 8, 2013

Pay me to live in city, Police say

I realize that living in the city of Chicago proper can be more costly than living in one of the suburban communities that surround it.

Personally, I’d argue that the sense of isolation one can feel living in a suburb makes the additional cost of city life worthwhile. But I also realize that is a viewpoint not shared by all.

IN PARTICULAR, IT does not seem to be shared by the people who are supposed to be patrolling the city streets and keeping them safe for us – the Police Department.

For it seems that those police officers (who by city ordinance are required to live within the Chicago municipal limits) seem to think they’re entitled to more money, on account of the fact that they’re being forced to live in the City of Chicago.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported Thursday about the negotiations now taking  place between the city and the Fraternal Order of Police on behalf of police officers.

It seems that the police union not only wants a significant pay increase and a reduction in the amount of money they have to contribute toward their health insurance benefit package, they also want a $3,000 annual stipend to compensate them for the residency issue.

IN SHORT, THEY seem to think they are being burdened by the city that gives them employment. Talk about an attitude that is bothersome.

It really makes me want to respond by telling them if they despise urban life so much, perhaps they ought not to be working for the city in any form.

Now I realize that “residency” is an issue that all governmental units have to confront when it comes to hiring people to actually do the work that allows government to function and provide services for us all.

I also realize that this is likely an early offer in contract negotiations. This is the point where one asks for “the moon” (and the city does its best impersonation of Ebenezer Scrooge), and then the two sides try to work toward a middle ground that will become the eventual contract.

SO PERHAPS I shouldn’t take it too seriously that the police are saying they want more money if they have to live in the city.

But it’s just the kind of attitude that makes me wonder, at times, if we need to be protected from our police – rather than view them as an entity that will protect us from those elements of our society that want to strong-arm us into submission.

When it comes to our city’s cops, we all have heard the jokes about those “cop enclaves” on the city’s far Southwest and Northwest sides – people living as close as they possibly can to the city limits without actually being residents of Alsip or Norridge or some other community.

And yes, in the interest of disclosure, I should admit that I have two uncles who were with the Chicago police (one is now retired, while the other is deceased) who when they were working lived near Midway Airport and in the Mount Greenwood neighborhood – both on the city’s fringes).

IT’S JUST THAT this is one issue where I don’t have a problem accepting the view that a city employee ought to live in the city he (or she) works in.

I know some suburbs don’t have strict residency requirements (and in an odd quirk, I know of at least two suburban cops who live in Chicago) because they think they need to reach out to a larger pool of employees than their residents could ever provide.

But that is different in Chicago, which is capable of attracting people who view the place as offering so much in opportunities that cannot be matched elsewhere.

So as for those cops who think they ought to be paid more to live in Chicago, personally I’d rather see us pay them off to get lost. We’d be better off without them if they can't appreciate the perks of living in the Second City!


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