A new interactive map shows you where NYPD officers live—and suggests that some officers aren't adhering to the NYPD's residency requirements.
The map was created with data obtained by Alex Bell (remember the cyclist who sued the UPS for parking their trucks in bike lanes? Same guy), who filed a FOIL request with the NYPD for information on the zip codes where officers live.
"I sent a FOIL request, which was promptly rejected. Then I appealed, and it was rejected again," Bell told the Village Voice. After the second rejection, Bell filed a lawsuit and the NYPD eventually agreed to release the information.
NYPD officers are allowed to live in New York City, on Long Island, or in approved Upstate counties. According to the data:
- 58 percent of NYPD officers live in New York City
- 17 percent live in Queens
- 16 percent live in Brooklyn
- 11 percent live in the Bronx
- 10 percent live on Staten Island
- 26 percent live on Long Island (Nassau or Suffolk Counties)
- 13 percent live in approved Upstate counties (Rockland, Westchester, Putnam, or Orange Counties)
- Less than 1 percent live in specially-approved, non-standard counties
Bell found that four percent of officers live and work in the same zip code, but an NYPD spokesperson clarified that doesn't mean officers are illegally working where they live since one zip code can include multiple precincts.
On his blog, Bell said he thinks officers who are listed as living and working in the same zip code aren't patrolling their communities—they're listing false addresses (perhaps the address of the precinct where they work) in order to live outside of the counties where officers are allowed to reside.
Bell points out that he's seen multiple cars outside his local precinct that have non-New York plates despite belonging to police officers, many of which have notes on the dashboard with badge numbers or other NYPD identifiers. In a post from 2010 on a forum used by some NYPD officers, some cops said "you can live where ever you want... just don't get caught ahahah" and "You can really live anywhere you want if you know the right people."
Bell also included a map that lets you see where the officers who work in your specific precinct live. According to the data, none of the cops who patrol my neighborhood—the 81st Precinct—live in Manhattan; 36 percent live in Brooklyn, 1 percent live in the Bronx, 23 percent live in Queens, 2 percent live on Staten Island, and 32% live on Long Island. None of the officers who work in the 81st Precinct live upstate, and 6 percent are reportedly illegally living in the same zip code where they work.
The data also shows that cops who work in upper Manhattan tend to live upstate, while cops who live on Staten Island also work there (in the opposite zip code than the one where they work). Cops who work in Queens and parts of Brooklyn often live on Long Island, and those who work in south Brooklyn also live there or in Staten Island.
Officers are ostensibly prohibited from working in their own neighborhoods to prevent favoritism, but Bell wonders whether allowing officers to patrol their own neighborhoods would make the NYPD more invested in local communities.
According to FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver, most police officers in the United States don't live in the city they serve, often living in suburbs outside the communities they police. Silver points out that New York City cops mostly do live within city limits, but there's a sharp racial divide—almost 80 percent of black officers and 76 percent of Hispanic officers live in the city. Meanwhile, just 45 percent of white officers live in the five boroughs.
In 2011, then-assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries proposed new residency requirements for officers after multiple officers made racially-charged comments about the West Indian Day Parade. The Policeman's Benevolent Association countered that the cost of living in the city is too high for officers (but as we've pointed out before, the majority of the city's black and Latino officers make it work).