Police quit and crime dropped in Golden Valley — not quite

Just last month a New York Times opinion article about Golden Valley, MN got a lot of attention. The title of the piece was “Half the Police Force Quit. Crime Dropped.” Golden Valley Police Chief Virgil Green was quoted in the piece 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 even begin to accurately describe what has happened to the once proud, once capable police force that is budgeted for as many as 31 police officers and supervisors.

In 2022 some of Golden Valley’s city council and its mayor decided that the police department needed to reform through various diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. Read more about the mayor’s allegations, and some of the fallout here and here. The ensuing ill-advised transformation led to an unprecedented number of police officer resignations over the past 1 ½ years, which has left Golden Valley citizens in a precariously vulnerable position.

As of the summer of 2023, according to City of Golden Valley Human Resources records, the Golden Valley Police Department has approximately four police officers able to conduct patrol. The records also indicate several “community service officers” (civilian uniformed officers who have no enforcement authority), several sergeants, an assistant chief and Chief Green who fill out the ranks. 

This level of staffing required the city to contract with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office in 2023 to cover police calls 50% of each day. Given the history of what has occurred in Golden Valley, the city should prepare for an extended and arduous process as it attempts to attract potential police officer applicants. If neighboring Minneapolis is any barometer, Golden Valley is in for years of struggle.

Second — “Crime is down.” The claim, as quoted by GVPD Chief Green, is true only if you rely solely on data collected and reported by the Golden Valley Police Department. But the disclaimer on the Police Department’s crime stat site here clearly notes, The below reports do not include data from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.”

When the stats from the sheriff’s office (obtained through a data practices request) are added to the GVPD stats, claims of crime going down don’t hold water.

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

  • Calls for Service are up 16% 
  • Arrests are up 21%
  • Citations (misdemeanor offenses) are up 40%
  • Crimes Against Persons are up 49%
  • Crimes Against Property are down slightly at 4.8%
  • Crimes Against Society (Drug offenses, liquor law violations, weapon offenses) are statistically down some 48%, 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 Golden Valley finds itself in.  This “reduction” should not be viewed as a drop in this criminal activity, rather a lack of proactive law enforcement efforts.

No matter how you view the data, 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.