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Golden Valley's troubled Police Department is down to 17 officers, and on Tuesday its chief laid out ways to recruit more cops and how the city of 22,000 would be policed amid the officer shortage.

Police departments across the country are struggling to hire, but Golden Valley's Police Department has had high turnover.

The city has the budget to hire 31 officers, but after two resignations already this year, there are 17 sworn officers serving in Golden Valley, though not all are on active duty. During a special City Council session, Police Chief Virgil Green outlined the department's tactics to deal with the shortage while the city works to hire, train and retain more officers.

"We're going to get through this," Green said, by leaning on other city and county first responders while Golden Valley works to recruit and retain more police.

Green said many of the common calls for service in Golden Valley are for issues like taking theft reports or parking complaints, which don't necessarily require a sworn police response. Turning these kinds of calls over to community service officers — who are aspiring police officers — both frees up sworn officers and helps familiarize the community service officers with Golden Valley, Green said.

Many other calls are for medical issues, and Green said the Golden Valley Fire Department would respond to more medical calls as the Fire Department shifts to a duty-crew model of service.

The city will also ask Hennepin County deputies to take shifts in Golden Valley to help police respond to calls.

"We're faced with some challenging times," Green said. "But the message I want to share with everyone is now is not the time to get down on the Police Department."

The department has been roiling for years. Persistent officer shortages and the department's anti-racism efforts became the central issue in the 2021 city elections, and a new police chief was appointed amid controversy in 2022.

In late November, the city released the results of an external investigation detailing officers' blasé attitudes toward racism and resistance to anti-racism efforts, and one former officer's violations of the department's professional conduct policy, the city's respectful workplace policy and the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.

Mayor Shep Harris connected some of the department's challenges to resistance to anti-racism training and reform work. He said he's seen on social media that former officers now serving in other departments and teaching in a community college have been encouraging would-be officers not to apply in Golden Valley, "sabotaging" the department, he said.

"They took an oath to protect this community and now they're doing the opposite," Harris said Tuesday.

Yes, Harris said, some of the reform work is difficult, but he said police have been supported with rising budgets, and the equity and inclusion work would be worthwhile to help the Golden Valley Police Department better serve everyone.

"Let's work together positively to make this change," Harris said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated the city had fewer officers. City officials clarified there are 17 officers but did not specify how many are on active duty.