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House passes residency ban for first responders

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State Sen. Brian Kelsey

The Tennessee House of Representatives voted Thursday, Feb. 24, to approve a bill that would ban residency requirements for first responders.

The House legislation applies only to Memphis, which would enable the Memphis Police Department to hire police officers who live outside Shelby County. The same applies to firefighters and emergency medical service workers.

A state Senate version of the bill, which Sen. Brian Kelsey won approval for last March, would ban the residency requirement for first responders statewide.

Lawmakers will now try to reconcile the two bills into a final piece of legislation, which Kelsey said could happen within a week or so.

“With this law, Memphis could quickly hire a multitude of new police officers,” Kelsey, R-Germantown, said in a release, noting that the Memphis City Council has a goal of increasing its police force by more than 500 officers.

“This bill will support our police, fire officers, and emergency medical service workers who keep us safe by allowing them to live where they choose,” he said. “This solution will increase public safety and help us fight our rising crime rates.”

In 2021, the City of Memphis experienced a new record of 346 homicides.

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