Small Minnesota cities struggle to fill law enforcement vacancies

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Small cities across Minnesota face a significant challenge to fill vacancies in their respective agencies. According to Minnesota POST Board records, 14 law enforcement agencies have closed across the state since 2017.

A spokesperson for the POST Board said his agency doesn’t track reasons why those agencies have closed, but said it is a “fair characterization” that most shut down due to staffing and budget issues.

St. Paul Park Police, in Washington County, has a staff of nine police officers, which includes Chief Jessica Danberg. Ideally, Chief Danberg told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, she would like to have nearly double that amount working in her department.

“And when we lose an officer to a bigger department that pays more and has more opportunity — even if we lose just one — it’s difficult,” said Danberg.

Rep. Keith Franke, R-St. Paul Park, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he would like to see the legislature revive the $250 million public safety bill that did not make it out of the last legislative session to help smaller communities hire more officers.

“We’re at a precipice of when are we actually going to go over the edge before we actually fix this,” said Franke.