City of Zumbrota reverses course after weighing disbanding its police force

The City of Zumbrota appears to be reversing course after the council weighed disbanding its police.

The Zumbrota City Council says it will not hold a public hearing on Thursday on disbanding its police force after a "productive" meeting with the police union.

A revised council agenda published on Wednesday removes a planned presentation on contracting with the Goodhue County Sheriff for police coverage in the city. Instead, the council will hold a closed meeting to discuss a new proposal that arose from several meetings with the police union.

In a statement, the city says the mayor and council have faced "numerous personal attacks and threats" over the potential change. The revised agenda says the city will have further updates on the future of the police department during a Nov. 2 meeting.

In its own statement, the Zumbrota Police Officers and Sergeants Local 425 says several meetings in recent days have "resulted in mutually beneficial negotiations." They say the city will discuss a new offer to maintain the police force during its closed meeting.

In a statement earlier this week, the Zumbrota police union says officers were notified on Friday that the city had met with the Goodhue County Sheriff's Office about contracting for police coverage. In a statement, the union said: "...the last thing that our membership expected to hear was that their positions may be eliminated. We take great pride in providing a high level of public service as community caretakers for Zumbrota’s residents, businesses, and to those who come to visit our beautiful city every day. We encourage anyone who wishes to express their support for maintaining the Zumbrota Police Department to contact the City of Zumbrota and the City Council."

In his own statement, the city's mayor, Todd Hammel, said staffing issues forced city leaders to consider other options. He writes: "I am going to just put facts out there right now and more will come. We have lost two police officers to another agency and this is the reason why we have started this process. We are looking at all options before a decision is made."

According to the union, discussions between the city and the sheriff began in August. That same month, the City of Goodhue reached an agreement for the Goodhue County Sheriff's Office to cover policing in its city, after the sudden resignation of its entire police force.