The Cambridge City Council is considering a new ordinance to offer incentives encouraging police officers and firefighters to live in the city where they work and serve the community.
The city is looking at offering $2,500 property tax credits for first responders with the Cambridge Police Department and the city’s Rescue Fire Company. Details of the ordinance are still being finalized and could be approved in the coming weeks
Cambridge Police Chief Mark Lewis likes the idea as way to better retain and recruit needed new officers.
We agree and hope other cities and towns on the Shore and across the region consider similar moves.
Police departments — whether they are in big cities such as New York and Baltimore or our small towns on the Eastern Shore — are having a tough time retain existing officers and hiring new ones.
That includes Easton and Cambridge. The latter continues to battle upsetting spikes in violent crime.
The events of 2020, including brutality incidents along with all the stresses of the job, are making it tough on police officers. They are also discouraging others from getting into law enforcement.
Cities and towns need to find creative ways to recruit, hire and retain good cops who want to help the communities they serve.
That gets us to the second advantage of the program.
We need more police officers, firefighters and others, such as teachers, living more in the cities and towns where they work.
This better connects those essential workers to the communities and constituencies they serve. It helps connects police officers, in particular, to the residents and neighbors they serve and protect every day.
It also shows those residents and neighbors further evidence of the positive impact law enforcement and other first responders have on their hometowns. Neighbors have more in common than strangers or commuters.
We all know of the improvements that need to be made with policing and our legal system. We have to address problems of race and class — with the past “war on drugs” and the legacies of past crime bills.
But we all have to acknowledge the critical and lifesaving work good cops do our communities — whether it’s Cambridge or Chicago — everyday.
Our first responders are the ones first on the scene to save overdose victims, to help victims of abuse and violence, to offer assistance to our homeless and struggling neighbors.
Police departments need to be able to hire and retain more good cops. It’s not an easy job, and it is getting tougher and tougher to find and retain police officers and firefighters.
The Shore has seen a number of good first responders end up taking jobs in bigger cities across the Bridge because of higher pay and better benefits.
The plan being considered by Cambridge might just help keep a few more of those good men and women on our side of the Bay.