Could officer hiring crisis lead to the end of small-town police departments?

Police departments across the state are struggling to find new officers.

The hiring crisis is a concern to the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association.

The group is worried about the possibility that small towns could close their police departments and contract with the local sheriff’s office to save money.

Police departments in Minnesota offer new incentives to hire, keep officers

In a statement, the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS:

"The Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association believes citizens are best served when locally-controlled, high-quality police service is delivered.

"Outsourcing of police services means local municipalities lose the ability to provide valuable input into the hiring of their Chief Law Enforcement Officer, which we believe is an expression of a community’s values.

"Local, community-based, control and oversight of policing is reflective in the policies and practices that govern the way law enforcement officers interact in the community.

"Though we understand the economic challenges faced by communities large and small, we do not regard the outsourcing of essential public safety services as an effective tool for budget management."

A few years ago, the city of Newport eliminated its police department to contract with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. The move saves the city around $100,000 each year.

"I think it’s getting harder and harder to run a small department," Newport Mayor Dan Lund said. "We’ve seen outstanding results as a result of our decision."

Here’s a look at some of the counties in Minnesota and the areas they police.

Carver County: Carver, Chanhassen, Cologne, Hamburg, Mayer, New Germany, Norwood Young America, Victoria, Waconia and Watertown.

Anoka County: Andover, Bethel, Columbus, East Bethel, Ham Lake, Linwood Township, Nowthen and Oak Grove.

Ramsey County: Arden Hills, Falcon Heights, Little Canada, North Oaks, Shoreview, Vadnais Heights and White Bear Township.

Washington County: Afton, Birchwood Village, Hugo, Lakeland, Lakeland Shores, Lake Elmo, Landfall, Mahtomedi, Newport, Scandia, St. Croix Beach, St. Mary’s Point and Willernie.

Hennepin County: Medicine Lake, Greenfield and Hanover. The department is also responsible for all unincorporated areas, such as Fort Snelling and all the military bases.