Entire Minnesota City Police Force Resigns
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Residents living in the city of Goodhue, Minnesota will be without a police department after the chief and all of the officers resigned over low pay.
Goodhue Police Chief Josh Smith and one other officer are still on the force, but only until their resignations become official on Aug. 23, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
"I think we're all a little bit blindsided by it, but we're resilient and we're going to move forward," Goodhue Mayor Ellen Anderson Buck told Fox 9.
"I want to reiterate that we will have police coverage in the city of Goodhue," Buck said. "That is not an issue."
Smith submitted his resignation at a City Council meeting on Aug. 9, while another full-time officer and five part-time employees resigned Friday after learning that Smith was stepping down.
"This is heartbreaking to us," Buck said Monday night after an emergency council meeting.
Goodhue is located about 15 miles south of Red Wing in southeastern Minnesota, and has a population of just over 1,000 residents, according to its website.
Smith told the council in July that the city wasn't offering enough money to retain officers when other places were willing to offer better pay amid increasing job vacancies. Goodhue also hasn't matched other cities' incentives such as sign-on bonuses, which Smith said affected recruiting.
"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 said smaller departments pay at least $30 an hour.
Smith also told the council he was looking into other job offers after being on call 24 hours a day, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
"Not that I'm leaving you guys, because I told you I'm in it," Smith said. "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."
The mayor said the mass resignations were surprising because the council gave officers a 5% increase and Smith a $13,000 raise earlier this year.
The council will seek extra enforcement from the Goodhue County Sheriff's Office while city officials work to rebuild the department.
City Council member Chris Schmit, praised the police force for maintaining law and order in the city, according to Fox News.
"I can probably speak for everyone when I say that they provided excellent safety and security to our community. And the small-town policing that they did, we want that back," Schmit said.
Goodhue is the latest small Minnesota community that's struggling to keep up with law enforcement demands amid increasing budget costs and an ongoing shortage of officers.
Last year, the police department in Morris was disbanded after a turbulent few months during which the department eroded to just the chief and one other officer. The town now contracts with the Stevens County Sheriff's Office.
CBN News has reached out to the Goodhue Police Department, and Mayor Buck for additional comment. We'll post it here if we hear back.
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