Goodhue, MN Police Dept. to City: We Quit

Goodhue, MN Police Dept. to City: We Quit

By Steve Pomper

It’s odd that an entire six-officer (including the chief) police department quit. What’s stranger is they’re not the first agency to quit all at once; they’re just the latest. According to the AP, “A small Minnesota town [Goodhue] will soon be without a police department, an exodus spurred by low pay for the chief and his officers.” This is a town of about 1,300 people located 60 miles southeast of Minneapolis.

Three officers among those who recently resigned en masse

Among several others, in 2021, a Missouri town lost its department to a mass resignation, and in 2022, a police force in a town in North Carolina bolted for the exit. Most are due to a combination of low pay and radical leftist policy and indoctrination. In the NC case, detractors tried to blame the resignations on the cops’ bigotry against a black woman. It appears it was her progressive politics that influenced the decision.

The AP also reported “low pay” is the primary issue. Goodhue Police Chief Josh Smith told Mayor Ellen Anderson Buck and the city council that other agencies were actively recruiting him and his officers.

After mentioning in July, he was considering a position with the Lake City Police Department, he reportedly accepted it in August. Smith told the mayor and council the $22 per hour offered by Goodhue can’t compete with the at least $30 offered by most surrounding departments. 

At a July meeting, Police Chief Josh Smith said, “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… leaving no time for my family.”  

Until August 23rd, Chief Smith and one officer will remain, after which the sheriff’s office will provide temporary police services. The Star-Tribune reports that the Goodhue city council plans to rebuild the department rather than contract with the sheriff’s office. Not if they don’t up the payrate.   

Smith told the council, “Right now … trying to hire at $22 an hour, you’re never going to see another person again walk through those doors.”

Officers already risk their mental and physical health and lives. But today, post-Floyd BLM/Antifa riots that began in Minnesota, cops also risk doing political prison time.

For example, again in Minnesota, setting aside Derek Chauvin’s conviction stemming from Floyd’s death, let’s look at the recent conviction of fellow former Officer Tou Thao for “aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.”  

Thao’s conviction is a tough one to take for current officers and those thinking about becoming cops. While Chauvin’s culpability is still debated—even by cops, it looked terrible on camera (as most uses of force do). As for Thao, I watched the video and saw a young officer monitoring the crowd, most of the time with his back to veteran officer Chauvin and suspect Floyd. Thao’s job was to ensure no one interfered with the officers arresting an uncooperative suspect behind him.

I’ve heard criticism of Thao for not listening when bystanders expressed concern for Floyd. Having been in that position many times, people in crowds say things to cops all the time. Some may genuinely believe the police are “wrong” (which doesn’t mean they are), but at other times, they simply want to distract or generally hate on the police. 

Bystanders were concerned because Floyd, reportedly under the influence of a large amount of Fentanyl was yelling, “I can’t breathe.” My firefighter/medic friends assure me if someone is yelling—anything, they can breathe.

By sentencing, Thao had already spent 340 days in jail, during which he said his Christian faith had grown. He maintained he did nothing wrong and essentially served as a “human traffic cone,” keeping people back. With officers dealing with an uncooperative suspect behind him, his job is to watch the crowd, only briefly glancing back in case the officers need help.

Thao said, “‘I did not commit these crimes. My conscience is clear. I will not be a Judas nor join a mob in self-preservation or betray my God.’” 

The judge said, “he would have liked to have heard some kind of repentance from Thao on Monday.” Cahill added, “After three years of reflection, I was hoping for a little more remorse, regret, acknowledgment of some responsibility — and less preaching.”

But what if Thao sincerely believes he did nothing wrong? There is a good faith, legitimate argument for that. By conceding to the judge’s wishes that he be “remorseful,” he’d have to surrender his conscience to the radical leftist’s political narrative. Did the judge punish Thao for holding to his principles? In part, it seems so.  

And speaking of less preaching, the judge showed zero empathy for the officer’s perspective and context during the incident. The judge bought the radical left’s political narrative and sentenced Thao to six months more than the prosecutors asked for, which was beyond the upper range of the guidelines, for a total of 57 months.

When I was in the academy, instructors taught us, “As long as you do your job honestly and act in good faith, you’ll have nothing to worry about.” That’s not true today. Many officers have been convicted, literally, for doing their jobs honestly and acting in good faith.  

Observing the actions of an officer that police haters and legacy media (I know, redundant) have scrutinized with an electron microscope, I feel comfortable giving Thao the benefit of the doubt. It seems unreasonable that a judge would treat him so harshly when so many suspects on the left meet no justice for their crimes—including for actual murders.

The question, once again, why would anyone want a career in law enforcement today. I understand that good people still accept positions as cops even in blue jurisdictions. I admire it even though I shudder when I think about their futures. I know too many great cops who didn’t think it would happen to them, but it did. I’m thinking Thao thought the same thing until he got nearly five years in prison for what appeared to be doing his job.

As for the cops leaving the Goodhue P.D., I wish them all good luck. As for the townspeople, perhaps it’s time for changes at the ballot box. The first job of politicians is public safety. If there’s not enough in the budget to properly compensate officers, maybe town leaders should review their priorities.