The city council of Goodhue, Minnesota, has approved a temporary contract with the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office to address the sudden resignation of its entire police department. The council unanimously agreed to the contract, which will be in effect until the end of the year. The contract ensures that the city will have law enforcement services and includes a minimum of six hours of patrolling per day. The Goodhue mayor commended the sheriff for his efforts in facilitating a smooth transition between departments. However, the sheriff’s office itself is also facing staffing shortages, highlighting a larger issue of recruiting and retaining officers in small departments due to low pay.
The agreement between the city council and the sheriff’s office will provide temporary law enforcement services for Goodhue, averting a situation where the city would be left without policing. The contract, which will last until the end of the year, includes regular patrolling to maintain public safety. The mayor expressed gratitude for the sheriff’s office’s presence in the community and acknowledged the positive impact they have already made. Financially, the contract will cost the city $43,548 for a period of over four months. However, it is worth noting that even the sheriff’s office is experiencing staffing shortages, indicating a larger problem of attracting and retaining officers due to competitive salaries offered by other departments.
The staffing shortage and low pay are cited as major factors leading to the disbandment of small police departments across the country, and Goodhue is not immune to these challenges. The shortage of officers is anticipated to persist as current law enforcement students cannot adequately replace expected retirees. Sheriff Marty Kelly pointed out that the situation may take years to resolve, and many departments are merely exchanging officers, without making any substantial progress. Goodhue’s former police chief resigned on August 9, followed by the resignation of a full-time officer and five part-time employees. The chief blamed the lack of applicants on low pay compared to other departments, which offered up to $8 more per hour. The city council had been working on increasing officer salaries in the city budget, but the resignations caught the mayor off guard. Despite their efforts to improve salaries, it seems that Goodhue still struggles to attract qualified officers due to the prevailing low pay in the area.