Long before the recession took its toll on the national economy, Detroit was hit hard by slumping sales in the auto industry.

More than half of the city’s public safety officers moved out of the city in recent years. Now Detroit mayor Dave Bing is initiating efforts to get more police and fire fighters to move back into the city.

“When they live in the neighborhood, they protect the neighborhood,” Bing was reported as saying in an editorial published in the Detroit Free Press.

In 2000, the Michigan Legislature repealed residency requirements. At the time, more than 20 percent of police officers lived outside of Detroit.

Bing says the city owns more than 500 vacant homes and could use at least 200 of them to draw police officers and fire fighters back to Detroit.

While some in Detroit applaud the mayor’s efforts, many say it will be a challenge to bring public safety officers back to the city. Many of the homes that the mayor wants to use in his program are in disrepair and/or located in less desirable neighborhoods.

Does Detroit’s mayor have the right idea? Should public safety officers live in the cities and communities they protect?