Forcing Missoula police officers to live within city limits will hurt the chances of having more women in leadership ranks on the force.

That’s one argument Missoula Police Department Detective Stacy Lear made Monday to the City Council on a proposed residency requirement. She reminded the council it has wanted to strengthen the number of women on the police force, but just one of the department’s 30 supervisors is a woman.

“She is the only female officer even eligible to become the chief of police in our department. And she lives in the county,” Lear said.

She also said the requirement wouldn’t be easy for midcareer officers to confront. When police change jobs, they start over at the bottom no matter their experience.

“It’s not as simple as just saying you could always take another job,” said Lear, who does live in the city.

At its regular meeting, the council set a public hearing for Feb. 25 on the proposal that top city officials be required to live within city limits. As written, the ordinance would apply only to new hires for top posts; it would grandfather in current department heads, as well as the assistant police and fire chiefs, who are in line for promotions.

Councilwoman Cynthia Wolken presented the ordinance, and it has sparked much debate. Councilman Adam Hertz said he isn’t sure whether he supports it, but he definitely wants to hear from members of the public.

“I’m amazed by how much interest the public has shown in this already,” Hertz said.

In general, Councilwoman Caitlin Copple said she likes the requirement, and she said she is concerned that neither the police chief nor the fire chief supports the idea of living in the city when it’s their job to tend to quality of life in the city.

“That seems to be a problem to me,” Copple said.

At the meeting, the council also voted to oppose House Bill 419 as written to revise recall laws. The bill, by Rep. Champ Edmunds, R-Missoula, would make certain public officials, including city council members, subject to recall for poor attendance.

Councilman Jason Wiener said people can be recalled for committing felonies and taking bribes, and a councilor’s attendance record doesn’t rise to the same level.

Hertz, though, said the measure is aimed at precinct committee representatives. He agreed “100 percent” it should not cover city councilors, and the majority voted to oppose the bill’s application to aldermen and alderwomen.

Reach Keila Szpaller at @keilaszpaller, at keila.szpaller@missoulian.com or at (406) 523-5262.

Reporter for the Missoulian

(18) comments

independent
independent

Wolken has always professed herself to be a advocate for women. Why this war on women? Or is she proving densification of the city outweighs all other considerations?

sonofbrutalbob
sonofbrutalbob

So Weiner, what you are saying is the department heads and new hires need to live inside the city limits to be employed by the city, but you as a councilor should not even have to show up for work to continue to be employed by the city. Can anyone say hypocrite enough times for your feeble mind to understand what it means?

Cameo01
Cameo01

If you want to set job requirements, they have to have some basis in reality. It is not uncommon to require certain employees to be within a certain distance or set amount of time for response to emergencies, however if you do set these requirements, you have to back them up with facts or prior situations. Police and fire are often required to be able to respond within a certain amount of time. Seldom are they required to live with their jurisdiction, and never simply on a whim.

To say that they should live within a city because they might make decisions that affect homeowners is a direct slap in the face to the ethics and integrity of the employee. They are insinuating that the employee would make two different decisions based on where they live. Using this perverted logic, it should follow that all people that work in the city should have to live in the city, since many decisions that are made by these employees also affect city residents. With all of the issues facing the city of Missoula, our council members should be directing their energies toward something useful.

Roger
Roger

You're joking, right? One definitely should question the ethics of a lot of public employees.

Cameo01
Cameo01

If I was joking I would have said - A horse walks into a bar and the bartender looks at the horse and says, "Why the long face?"

Actually I've been involved with policy matters for a long time so I know what I'm talking about. If you know of a public employee that you have ethical concerns about you report it to their supervisor. You don't write a policy that affects everyone. That's called shotgunning and adversly affects morale.

BobbyLee
BobbyLee

- "She reminded the council it has wanted to strengthen the number of women on the police force, but just one of the department’s 30 supervisors is a woman."

Looks Like a Duck. Walks Like A Duck. Sounds Like a Duck. Yup, city council quietly installed a quota; gender specific preference.

Hey, here's an idea: why don't we create a city that those employed by the city actually want, and can afford, to live in. Somewhere that the council does not run roughshod over its citizens, treats its citizens with the respect they deserve (for being its employers, after all!), and leaves them the ***k alone! And does not try to socially re-engineer everything to their particular liking (or where they just came from). It's no surprise to most people with half a brain why places like Bozeman are thriving and Missoula is stagnating, and yet the city council consistently just doesn't get it - even when there are examples of how to do it just down the road. Oh, that's right; progressives don't do that. Regression is more their game. Well, that regressive tendency has got noticed; Missoula is now not just only a student-centric laughing stock, a grant subsidized tax free haven for non-profits, but has successfully become a business pariah.

It's the unemployed yob without a job, living on the handouts of others. And they call that progressive!

Sukey
Sukey

I think I'm in love with BobblyLee! I thought I was the only shrieking to the heavens that AMERICA IS BANKRUPT from everyone scamming on tax-subsidized GRANTS FOR NON-PROFITS NO ONE WOULD DONATE MONEY TO ANYWAY. No donations to fund things the government has no business being involved in? No problem- get Grant money! It must be free, it doesn't cost the "non profit" anything. No body will hire you? No problem, become a "non profit" so you don't have to be profitable. Elect your friends as the Board of Directors and they'll award you a 100,000K salary. It directly interferes with small businesses and destroys jobs? What do you care, they wouldn't hire you anyway, so you hired yourself or hired failed Democratic political candidates, they can make 100,000 a year, why beg Taco Bell to let them sweep the floor.

part of the Mob
part of the Mob

Buzz nailed it on the head. Is this the best Cynthia can produce? Out of all the things effecting us on a daily basis, this is what she can produce? Does Cynthia and her blind followers understand that by forcing potential employees to live within the city, they might be losig the best person for the job? So I guess Cynthia doesn't have a problem with hiring a subpar employee, so long as she can force them to obey her commands. Now that's spending my tax dollars wisely. But then again, liberals have NEVER had a problem of hiring subpar employees in the name of social justice and affirmative action. Once again, the Missoula City Council on parade wearing their clown suits.

JacksonB
JacksonB

One other thing, it is a mistake to make this a gender specific fight, wrong path to follow.

JacksonB
JacksonB

As I said before, it might be unlawful to force you pay part of your own salary, there have been cases in the US about this very situation. Forcing a person to pay for the right to work has been addressed by courts and in many locations found to be against, the rules, regulations or laws of that particular location. I would think that the city attorney would be looking at this aspect.

Roger
Roger

The women angle is nonsense, just a cynical attempt to appeal to the emotions of susceptible persons who, at the mention of something that allegedly hurts women, reflexively lose all reason.

Bandit218
Bandit218

Couple believes that because they tend to the quality of life to people in the city that they shouldn't be able to manage their own quality of life. So your saying that because I'm a dept head, I need to live in the city where apartments are soon to be built in the alley? My daughter can't raise a 4-H animal and the horses need to go. You council members need to quit acting like we are your subjects and this is your kingdom.

walter12
walter12

And just why must the City of Missoula Police Department have more women in supervisor positions? Just so the city can be more pc? Being pc is irrelevant in police work.

stalker
stalker

Anybody notice the article the other day in which one of the councils' reasons to force them into the city was to have them feel more accountable by being required to ante up city taxes, therefore taking an active role in paying part of their own salaries!? I don't know about the rest of you but paying myself to work for the city seems pretty meager as far as incentives are concerned...

John P Weber
John P Weber

The proposal should become law, but it should exempy current law enforcement. A new hire would be a person who has not worked for the city before. I support this. And if the chief feels he cant affiord to live in the city now considering his huge salary, then he should retire and leave Montana for good. I made less than $15,000 and live in the city and enjoy it.

Service
Service

Anyone else noticing that the only thing we're hearing is how many city officials and employees want to live in the county because it's cheaper and for a better quality of life (as the Chief of Police put it)? Give me the great wages and excellent benefits but I still can't afford to live within the city limits so I have to live in the county. Says a lot about city government and the way they're running things!

Buzz Feedback
Buzz Feedback

Ms. Wolken is the Queen of the Solution to the Non-Existent Problem. Nothing better to do? Really?

D
D

Champ Edmunds is no prize either...he needs to go.

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