Lynn’s Residency Requirement and the Police Department

A battle is on in Superior Court where the police department is fighting the city’s legal department over whether or not the city’s charter certified residency requirement is legal and right given the possibilities that collective bargaining offers the police.

In other words, the police would like to strip the residency requirement and they are using collective bargaining as the legal tool by which to extricate themselves from the requirement of living here and working here.

Actually, what they want to do is to have the right to work here and to drive home elsewhere – anywhere but Lynn.

The residency requirement makes this city a better place.

When you have an entire department of more than 175 living here, shopping here, voting here, working here everyday, sending their kids to school here – this is a good thing and anyone trying to change that will not be doing this city a favor.

The residency requirement imposes a higher standard here – and this is needed more than anything else at this time in the city’s history.

An outflow of such immense proportions that would follow the end of the residency requirement would take this city down a significant notch – and we’d be losing some very fine, hardworking, upright people.

Police officers are paid well. They have eyes in the back of their heads. They keep their homes in top condition. They are careful about what they do. Police men and women are good sheepherds for this city.

Losing them to Saugus, Lynnfield, and to places like Billerica would be a terrific loss.

The late gifted writer and bon vivant Oscar Wilde once said: “The last place you get any justice is in a court of law.”

However, in this instance, the matter now in Superior Court seems to be favoring the residency requirement and not because it makes the city a better place but because it is legal and it is right.

The collective bargaining covenants of a union contract do not take precedence over the Lynn City Charter.

I believe the judge will read it this way.

The police will then appeal and it is most likely the Appeals Court will reject the notion that something, anything a union does can take precedence over the Lynn City Charter.

On the other hand, the case can be made that police, like anyone else working and struggling in this world, ought to be able to live anywhere they want at anytime and to be required to do otherwise is a nasty imposition on one’s freedom.

And it is.

But the way these things are construed – residency requirements that is – if you don’t want to live here, simply move but then you can no longer work here.

At least police can afford to live and work in Lynn, where many officers have long family work histories with the force.

In neighboring Marblehead and Swampscott, police officers in those towns can barely afford to live and work in the same place.

Residency in those towns is governed only by who can afford to buy there rather than who can afford to work there. Working there for those towns implies you can’t afford to live there.

So there you go.

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