Amid police recruit shortages throughout the country in the wake of George Floyd and 2020’s “Summer of Love” riots, one small Minnesota town has offered a unique incentive plan in an attempt to attract officers.
The city of Ely is a small forest town about 140 miles north of Minneapolis that has approved a plan thought of by Assistant Police Chief Mike Lorenz to attract recruits and retain their current employees. The Northern Minnesota city is known as an outdoor paradise with access to lakes and wilderness, so according to the Star Tribune, Lorenz thought, “Why not tap into the area’s greatest asset and offer new hires a free canoe?”
Ely’s City Council decided to back the plan proposed by the Police Chief Chad Houde, allocating $30,000 toward providing new hires and current employees of the department each with a Kevlar canoe, two life jackets, and two paddles, Fox News reported.
The incentive program breaks down to approximately $3,800 per officer, and the Ely Police Department, when fully staffed, consists of seven officers total.
The $30,000 being allocated toward the canoe program is part of the state of Minnesota’s $300 million public assistance bill that was passed earlier this year designed to address the staffing crisis throughout the state.
While police department shortages are a growing trend throughout the country, it is perhaps Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota more broadly that has experienced the greatest fallout from the left’s perpetuation of the “anti-police” sentiment.
According to a September article from Police Magazine, “Over the past three years, [Minneapolis Police Department] experienced the most significant exodus of uniformed personnel in its history and, last month, dipped to the lowest level in at least four decades.”
Moreover, according to Fox News, “About 200 of Minnesota’s 400 law enforcement agencies currently have openings posted on the state licensing board’s job site.”
“That’s just crazy, that half the departments in our state have current openings,” Houde said, MPR News reported.
According to the outlet, there has been a study decline in the number of applicants to Ely’s police department. In 2020, there were 25 applicants, which decreased to five applicants in 2021 and three in 2022. This year, there was only a single applicant.
The canoe incentivization program is intentionally unique in order to set Ely apart from the competition for officers within the state — specifically within some of the larger cities.
“We’re fighting for all these officers with other agencies,” Houde explained, the Star Tribune reported. “Other agencies are offering recruitment bonuses. How can we stand out differently than offering a $5,000 signing bonus? We have to look at what sells Ely, and that’s our area.”
The attention given to Ely through the program has apparently paid off, and Houde has received interest in the open positions.
Come work as a patrol officer in Ely, the gateway to the Boundary Waters!
To get you started in this new adventure, you’ll receive a Kevlar Canoe upon hire to enjoy Ely’s amazing outdoor recreation opportunities, two paddles and two life jackets are included ($3800 value). pic.twitter.com/xt9Ukq6Gea
— Ely Police Dept (@ElyPolice) December 14, 2023
In November, the Minneapolis city council voted down a recruitment and retainment program proposed by Mayor Jacob Frey that would have given existing officers an $18,000 bonus and new hires a $15,000 bonus over a three year period, according to MPR News.
This denial follows a pattern from the Minneapolis City Council that in 2021 proposed a policy seeking to defund and dismantle the police department and create a new community Department of Public Safety.
And while the proposal was ultimately shot down, the increase in crime throughout the state has been substantial. According to data obtained by Minn Post, “After declining in 2018 and 2019, violent crime in Minnesota increased 17.2 percent in 2020 and 21.6 percent in 2021, according to Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s 2021 statewide crime report.” At the time of the article the 2022 data was not available.
In the political left’s desire to galvanize their progressive base to garner political momentum following the death of George Floyd and heading into the 2020 elections, it was of course the citizens, not the politicians, who ultimately suffered and continue to suffer the consequences of their rhetoric.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.