Every police officer, including the chief of police, has stepped down from the force in a Minnesota town after they say complaints of low pay and long hours were left unresolved.
Goodhue, a city about 65 miles southeast of Minneapolis with just over 1,000 residents, could be without police officers by August 23. It has struggled to attract new police recruits and give competitive pay to officers. The nonpartisan mayor said she was “blindsided” by the resignations and promised that the city would be protected.
“I want to reiterate that we will have police coverage in the city of Goodhue,” Mayor Ellen Anderson Buck told Fox 9. “That is not an issue.”
Police Chief Josh Smith said the force had trouble getting anyone interested in police work. Smith, another full-time employee, and five part-time employees all announced their resignations last week.
“This has been three weeks now, we have zero applicants, and I have zero prospects,” Smith said in July. “I’ve called every PD around for the youngest guys out there, getting into the game. There’s nobody getting into the game.”
“Not that I’m leaving you guys, because I told you I’m in it,” he said at a meeting on July 26. “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.”
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Goodhue City Council raised Smith’s salary by $13,000 and the other officers by 5% this year.
“Right now … trying to hire at $22 an hour, you’re never going to see another person again walk through those doors,” Smith said, noting that cities could frequently give more benefits and higher pay.
After all the officers leave, the town is set to contract with the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office to provide law enforcement services. The police department in Morris, another Minnesota town, was disbanded last year after it could not retain staffers.
Police departments across the U.S. have struggled to attract recruits in urban and rural areas. The shortage of officers comes following a wave of anti-police sentiment after the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody in 2020.