Helping to staff public safety stations, keeping our communities secure

House Bill 1055 is now being considered in the Senate

                                    

Police officers and firefighters are critical to protecting our local communities. Whether it's day or night, these brave Hoosiers answer the call to serve no matter the danger.

Unfortunately, over the last few years public safety staff numbers have gone down, which could pose a serious risk to our towns, cities and counties. To help staff our local agencies, legislation I authored would ease residency requirements for police and firefighting positions to encourage more people to consider applying for jobs across county lines.

Currently, public safety officials must reside in the same county as their service area. My bill would remove the residency requirements for police officers and firefighters, taking out a barrier for those pursuing a career in public safety. Officials outside the county would still be required to have reliable transportation to the job and maintain communication with their department.

The United States has seen a national decrease in public safety officials. In 2020-2021, law enforcement agencies hired fewer new officers, while resignations and retirements increased. According to a study from the Police Executive Research Forum, retirements had increased by 45% and resignations by 18% across the United States.

Additionally, firefighters have seen a decrease in their ranks. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over the next decade an average of 28,000 firefighting job openings are projected every year. Locally, Greensburg, Jeffersonville, Scottsburg, Clarksville and other towns are currently hiring police officers, firefighters or other public safety officials.

These openings in our police and firefighter forces must be filled. Emergencies don't occur on a schedule, and to keep Hoosiers safe, we must have responders on standby and be ready in a moment's notice.

For those seeking to help protect and serve our communities, where they live should not be an obstacle keeping them from helping our state.  This commonsense legislation would remove an unnecessary barrier, boost staff numbers and ensure public safety.

House Bill 1055 is now being considered in the Senate. To learn more about my legislation, visit iga.in.gov. To stay in touch, sign up for my e-newsletter at in.gov/h67.

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