MEMPHIS, Tenn. — State Senators Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and Paul Rose (R-Covington) as well as State Representatives Mark White (R-Memphis) and John Gillispie (R-Memphis) issued a joint press release stating their top priority in the 2022 Tennessee legislative session is to remove the ban on residency requirements for first responders in Tennessee.

Representative White pointed to studies showing that Memphis Police Department is understaffed, and when the number of officers increases, the amount of violent crime decreases.

Senator Kelsey said this is a matter of public safety and that it will allow police and fire departments to recruit top tier talent.

“Passage of this legislation will help us fight our rising crime rates by enabling us to hire more police officers.” Sen. Kelsey said. “This requirement, needs to be removed immediately because it is an obstacle in recruiting and retaining first responders in an already tough labor market.”

Representative Gillespie from Memphis said it will expand the list of available applicants.

“We should be thinking regionally;this legislation will help to expand our pool of highly-qualified applicants, resulting in more boots on the ground serving constituents,” Rep. GIllespie said.

Tennessee House Majority Caucus Chairman Jeremey Faison (R-Cosby), who is also sponsoring the bill said that, “This legislation will open the labor pool to all Shelby County residents, and you will see crime drop.”

The 2022 Tennessee Legislative session is scheduled to return on Tuesday, January 11. The bill has already met approval in the Tennessee State Senate, but was deferred until 2022.