Minnesota Police

Entire police department of small Minnesota city resigns, citing low pay

The town of Goodhue, Minnesota will soon be without local law enforcement after its police force resigned last week, citing low pay.

Police Chief Josh Smith resigned at a City Council meeting on Aug. 9. One other full-time officer and five part-time employees resigned on Aug. 11 after hearing Smith quit, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The last day for Smith and the other full-time officer is Aug. 23, at which point the council will seek extra enforcement from the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office in the interim.

“This is heartbreaking to us,” said Goodhue Mayor Ellen Anderson Buck at an emergency City Council meeting Monday night.

Anderson Buck said at the meeting that the resignations took city officials by surprise.

The council gave officers a 5% pay increase and Smith a $13,000 raise earlier this year, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, but Goodhue officers were still paid lower than comparable communities.

Smith warned the council of concerns over pay and recruiting at a July 26 meeting, two weeks before he resigned.

“Not that I’m leaving you guys, because I told you I’m in it,” he said at the meeting. “But the harsh reality is, I don’t want to be the guy working 80 hours a week just running this PD, being on call 24 hours a day, which I already am, and leaving no time for my family.”

Smith said at the meeting that the city wasn’t offering enough money to retain officers. He said other communities and metro areas were offering better pay.

“Right now … trying to hire at $22 an hour, you’re never going to see another person again walk through those doors,” Smith told the council. He also told the council smaller departments were offering at least $30 an hour.

The council seemingly agreed on rebuilding the city’s police force rather than permanently contracting with the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office, although it is unclear how long that would take.

“They provided excellent safety and security to our community. We want that back,” said council member Chris Schmit.

According to the Star Tribune, Goodhue is the latest small Minnesota town struggling to keep up with public safety demands amid increasing budget costs and an ongoing shortage of officers throughout the state.

Officials in Morris, Minnesota, last year disbanded the city’s police department following a turbulent few months during which the police department was whittled to just two officers, including the chief, the Star Tribune reported.

The city contracted with the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services.

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