The City of Goodhue will be without a police department come Aug. 24 after Police Chief Josh Smith and six officers submitted their resignations last week.
Goodhue Mayor Ellen Anderson Buck said during a special City Council meeting Monday night that she is in talks with the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office about providing law enforcement services for the city.
“I want to reiterate that we will have police coverage in the City of Goodhue. That is not an issue,” she said. “He (the sheriff) reassured us that there will always be coverage in the City of Goodhue.”
Chief Smith spoke out about the need for pay increases to help his recruitment efforts at a City Council meeting last month, according to MPR.
“Right now, currently trying to hire at $22 an hour, you’re never going to see another person again walk through those doors,” Smith said. “It’s been three weeks now, we have zero applicants and I have zero prospects. I’ve called every PD around looking for the youngest guys out there looking to get into the game, and there’s no one getting into the game. Those that are are getting scooped up immediately and going to the Cities.”
Rep. Pam Altendorf, R-Red Wing, who represents the city in the Minnesota House, said the story is “being blown completely out of proportion.”
“The real story is Minnesota’s police shortage, and that smaller towns — like Goodhue and its more limited tax base — are not able to match the large salaries and significant sign-on bonuses that bigger departments can offer. The recruitment of police is in high demand in Minnesota, and this is mainly due to the failed policies of the Walz administration and the degrading of our police officers,” she said.
Both Altendorf and Buck said situations like this aren’t uncommon for small towns, which struggle to compete with the incentives offered to applicants in bigger cities.
“Small towns simply cannot compete with the resources bigger cities can provide in order to hire available police officers,” Altendorf said. “This is what happens when government creates an environment where criminals do not receive just sentences and law enforcement is demeaned and demoralized: mass early retirements, fewer considering law enforcement as a profession, and an enormous shortage of men and women who are desperately needed to keep our communities safe.”