Pittsburgh police officers no longer have to live within the city limits to keep their jobs.
In an 18-page opinion, the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court on Monday ruled 6-0 in favor of the Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1, which won an arbitration award in 2014 allowing its approximately 870 officers to live within 25 air-miles of the City-County Building Downtown. Justice Debra Todd did not participate in the decision.
Robert Swartzwelder, the president of the FOP, called it a “huge win” for the city’s officers.
“We were very confident the Supreme Court would rule in our favor,” he said.
The dispute began in 2012, when the state Legislature repealed a residency mandate requiring officers in second-class cities to live within city limits. That opened the door for the police union to bargain the issue of residency with the city administration, which argued that officers should live within Pittsburgh limits to remain in tune with their community.
The issue also went to the voters in a referendum in 2013, with the electorate overwhelmingly supporting the residency requirement.
Mayor Bill Peduto said the city defended the requirement on behalf of the residents.