(RepublicanJournal.org) – A small Minnesota city could soon see itself without a single member on its police force following a mass exodus of officers. The entire department recently quit, leaving the local mayor feeling “blindsided” and scrambling to rebuild. Finances are reportedly the main factor behind the crisis.
Goodhue is a small city, claiming only 1,300 residents, so its budget is understandably small. The handicap leaves the city council without the means to pay its local police force competitive wages. Police Chief Josh Smith told Minnesota’s Star Tribune that he had warned the council weeks before he submitted his resignation that he was considering outside job offers due to the long hours and low pay. He’d complained that he had no time left for his family but also claimed he wanted to remain dedicated to the force.
Smith submitted his resignation on August 9. Two days later, the rest of the department — one full-time officer and five employees who worked for the force part time — also quit. The police chief will remain in his position until August 23, according to the Associated Press, which also notes that the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office will fill in while the city seeks new hires.
Fox News reports that the biggest hurdle the city is currently facing is a total lack of interest among potential recruits. Even after offering a 5% wage increase, boosting officers’ paychecks by about $13,000 annually, the city can only afford to offer new hires $22 an hour. Even smaller departments, according to Smith, are starting their officers at $30 an hour. Additionally, other cities are offering sign-on bonuses and other incentives Goodhue doesn’t have the resources to give.
Residents and council members alike are dismayed over the loss. They describe their city’s fleeing police force as having been visible and dependable, and the locals want to reclaim that sense of security.
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