Less cops, less crime

Claims that police quit and crime dropped in Golden Valley don’t hold up.

In July, a New York Times opinion piece about Golden Valley, Minn. received much attention. In “Half the Police Force Quit. Crime Dropped,” author Radley Balko quotes Golden Valley Police Chief Virgil Green as saying, “crime was down” despite mass defections from his police force. Upon examination, the claims are dubious.

First, “half the police force quit” doesn’t accurately describe what has happened to the once proud and capable police force that is budgeted to have as many as 31 police officers and supervisors.

In 2022, some members of Golden Valley’s city council and its mayor decided that the police department needed reform through various diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. The ensuing transformation led to an unprecedented number of police officer resignations over the past year and a half.

Throughout the summer of 2023, according to City of Golden Valley Human Resources records, the city’s police department had approximately four police officers able to conduct patrols. The records also indicate several “community service officers” (civilian uniformed officers who have no enforcement authority), several sergeants, an assistant chief, and Chief Green filling out the ranks.

This level of staffing required the city to contract with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office to cover police calls 50 percent of each day. Given the history of what has occurred in Golden Valley, the city should prepare for a long and arduous process as it attempts to attract potential police officer applicants, as has been the case in Minneapolis.

The second claim, “Crime is down,” is true only if you rely solely on data collected and reported by the Golden Valley Police Department (GVPD). But the disclaimer on the police department’s crime statistics site clearly notes: “The below reports do not include data from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.”

When the statistics from the sheriff’s office (obtained through a data practices request) are added, claims of a reduction in crime don’t hold water.

The combined data comparison from January through June 2022 and 2023 indicates:

  • Calls for Service are up 16 percent.
  • Arrests are up 21 percent.
  • Citations (misdemeanor offenses) are up 40 percent.
  • Crimes Against Persons are up 49 percent.
  • Crimes Against Property are down slightly at 4.8 percent.
  • Crimes Against Society (drug offenses, liquor law violations, weapon offenses) are statistically down approximately 48 percent, but these crimes are most often detected and responded to through proactive law enforcement, which has been dramatically and negatively impacted by the staffing situation. This “reduction” should not be viewed as a drop in this criminal activity, but rather as a lack of proactive law enforcement efforts.

No matter how the data is analyzed, the claim that Golden Valley lost half its police force and saw a reduction in crime is misleading. When reform advocates manipulate crime data to suggest fewer officers result in less crime, their hidden agendas become exposed.

Golden Valley is facing a prolonged public safety crisis of its own making, and citizens should look no further than the elected officials who created it.

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