A small Minnesotan town may soon be without any local law enforcement after its entire police force handed in their resignation in protest of low wages.
Goodhue Police Chief Josh Smith submitted his resignation last week at a city council meeting in Goodhue, Minnesota, citing the city’s $22 an hour pay for officers. The department’s remaining team members, one full-time police officer and five part-time officers, quit their jobs shortly afterwards. The resignations are the latest inat police departments across the U.S., as officers push for higher pay and less overtime.
“We can look at [pay increases] to make ourselves more marketable,” Goodhue Mayor Ellen Anderson Buck, told community members at an emergency council meeting Monday following the police chief’s resignation. “This is heartbreaking to us,” Buck said after the meeting.
Goodhue PD will serve the small town of just over 1,000 people until August 24, Buck said. The Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office will take up the departing officers’ cases while the town’s officials work on rebuilding the department.
Goodhue Police Chief Smith warned of the department’s difficulties attracting young officers at a City Council meeting last month.
“This has been three weeks now that we’ve got zero applicants and I have zero prospects,” Chief Smith said at that meeting. “Right now … trying to hire at $22 an hour, you’re never going to see another person again walk through those doors.”
Smaller departments pay at least $30 an hour, Smith told the council. Goodhue also hasn’t matched other cities’ incentives such as sign-on bonuses, which also affect recruiting, Smith said.
Bigger than a small-town problem
Goodhue isn’t the only community losing officers over issues like low pay and long hours.
The national number of resignations and retirements at police departments has soared, according to a recent survey from the Police Executive Research Forum. Departments across the U.S. saw 47% more resignations in 2022 compared with 2019.
The New York City Police Department is also feeling the pain of exodus. In the first two months of this year alone, 239 officers left the NYPD, according to data obtained by the New York Post in March. That’s 36% more than the number who quit during the same period in 2022.
Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch attributed the rise in resignations of New York police officers to the job’s poor pay and “grueling” conditions.
“We are continuing to lose too many members to other policing jobs where they face less grueling working conditions, less second-guessing and have significantly better pay and benefits,” Lynch told CBS2 News last month.
Everyone wants better pay
But, it’s not just police officers that are searching for greener salary pastures. Workers in other professions are also leaving their jobs to look for better compensation packages and greater professional development opportunities elsewhere.
According to a 2021 Pew Research study, inadequate pay was the top reason workers quit their jobs, with 63% of workers bidding adieu to their employers over money issues.
The Associated Press contributed reporting.