PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Amnesty is sometimes offered to people who live outside the law, but now the City of Pittsburgh is offering it to police officers who live outside the city, violating the residency requirement.

All city employees are required to live inside city limits, police included. Though the police union has long argued that officers should not be required to live alongside people they arrest.

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“It makes it very difficult from a safety perspective for a police officer to live where they police,” police union attorney Eric Stoltenberg said.

Recently, when an arbitration panel ruled that officers could live outside city limits, many decided to leave — only to have that decision overturned last week in Commonwealth Court.

Now, Chief Cameron McLay is offering those who moved out an olive branch. In an email to the rank and file, he’s offered amnesty, allowing officers to return without penalty.

“I have heard people fear there will be retaliatory residency investigations and immediate terminations. That will not occur,” he wrote. “While the details of the Amnesty program are being worked out, I can assure you this: the city will be taking a compassionate and measured approach to this situation.”

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“I think what the chief is saying, which reflects what the mayor is, is we’re not going to go out and start prosecuting people,” the mayor’s Chief of Staff, Kevin Acklin, said.

Under city law, those who violate the residency requirement can be fired, but Acklin says the city will give a grace period to those who will move back voluntarily.

“We’re going to be taking an approach that allows for a little bit of time for that to happen,” Acklin said. “I don’t know how long, but those are the details the law department is working on right now.

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Meanwhile, the police union plans to appeal the residency requirement to the state Supreme Court, and some officers may want to hedge their bets to see how the Supreme Court rules before deciding whether to move back in. But while this amnesty will offer a grace period, it won’t last forever.