Small Towns Disband Police Departments Due to Staffing Issues

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( – Across the United States, several small towns are left with little choice but to disband their police force. A recent example is the town of Goodhue, MN. Goodhue is a town of approximately 1300 residents. The former Police Chief, Josh Smith, struggled to fill vacant positions for police officers through the summer of 2023. Smith informed the City Council that more money and better benefits should be offered to attract applicants, but the changes were never made. Smith subsequently turned in his resignation. A few days later the remaining officers on the force quit as well.

Goodhue County Police Department is now under contract to perform law enforcement duties in the town of Goodhue, even though the department is shorthanded. Sheriff Marty Kelly has been diligently trying to hire four deputies to fill vacancies within the department. Kelly notes there are fewer applicants for police officer positions now than there were in 2019. He has only received 10 applications for the four available jobs whereas in 2019 he received 35 applications for one open position.

At least 12 police departments in smaller towns across the US have been disbanded over the past two years. Most police departments in general are understaffed. A police officer shortage is plaguing America.

Kelly spoke of hiring deputies for Goodhue County saying he knows that for every deputy he hires, he’s leaving another police force short one deputy.

The Police Executive Research Forum out of Washington, D.C. surveyed almost 200 police agencies. The results show the officer shortage may be related to morale issues since George Floyd’s murder in 2020 combined with the chaos caused by the pandemic. Veteran officers are retiring at a much higher rate since those occurrences and younger people are not motivated to endure the months of training required to become an officer. Agencies of all sizes across the country are struggling to fill vacant positions for police officers.

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