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City disbands entire police force

A police car. (Dreamstime/TNS)
February 16, 2024

The Moose Lake City Council recently voted to disband the Minnesota city’s police force after facing significant budget and staffing shortages.

According to The Star Tribune, the city’s decision to disband its police force came as the city council voted to contract with the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office rather than continue supporting its own police department. Moose Lake Mayor Ted Shaw told the outlet he was “disappointed” by the city council’s decision on Wednesday.

At Wednesday’s meeting, City Council Member Walter Lower III said that while each of the council members respected Moose Lake’s police force, he no longer believed it was “affordable.”

“We do not have the tax base to keep doing what we’re doing,” City Council Member Douglas Juntunen said. “It’s a very difficult thing, and all of us has done our due diligence, but the numbers aren’t there that support it.”

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The city’s anticipated contract with the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office is expected to involve four deputies who will be based in the city. According to The Star Tribune, the city reduced the size of its police force from five officers to three officers last year after two officers resigned from the force. Two of the remaining officers resigned in January, leaving the city with only one police officer on the current force.

The Star Tribune reported that the upcoming contract with the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office is expected to cost the city roughly $665,000, which is approximately 5% less than the city’s current budget for three police officers and administrative support.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Moose Lake Interim Police Chief Chad Pattison commented on the current challenges facing police departments across the United States.

“Nationwide, hiring is at an all-time low for police,” he said. “Just not a lot of interest in doing it, and there’s not a lot of candidates, but there are a ton of open jobs.”