TWO MONTHS AGO, City Council ended the residency requirement for people wanting to join the Police Department. The move was supposed to attract more recruits. It appears to have worked.
According to the city Personnel Department, the number of applicants taking the annual test more than doubled from 2,125 last year to 4,967. Mayor Nutter's budget calls 500 additional officers over the next three years, so this is good news.
Under the old rules, applicants were required to live in the city for at least one year before becoming eligible for employment. Few people would be willing to move to the city for such a long period just to be able to apply. The change means that Philadelphia is now in a better position to compete for the best and the brightest.
At the same time, it's important not to overlook the potential downside of hiring outsiders. Philadelphia's police force should reflect the diversity of our city, and the department has struggled to attract minority officers. Recruiting too many non-Philadelphians might be a step in the wrong direction. The administration needs to keep a close eye on this. *