City of Zumbrota considering a disbandment of police department

(ABC 6 News) – This year has taken a toll on the city of Zumbrota’s Police Department with officers leaving the force and the unexpected death of retired officer Gary Schroeder in April.

On Monday, people in the city of Zumbrota were in shock as many learned the city council is weighing the future of the town’s police department.

The city has been in contact with the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office about possibly taking over policing duties in Zumbrota. On Friday, the city notified officers and their union about the potential change.

Now, the future of the department is in question as the city council weighs the removal of the entire department.

Two officers at Zumbrota PD left in August for the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Department, which offered them a pay increase.

Mayor of Zumbrota Todd Hammel says the pay scale has put the city’s budget into consideration on how to keep attracting new officers into the community.

“It’s coming down to the budget but also too looking at the city of Zumbrota,” Hammel said. “We’ve had our own police department for 50-60 years, and if we stick with our current police department it’s really going to increase our budget significantly.”

Philip Walters has only lived in Zumbrota for two years, but has seen a positive relationship between officers and the community. He’s not sure what a change like this could mean for the town.

“I’m kind of shaken up about it,” said Walters. “I moved here because it’s a good town and the police department is really close with the community here. I believe it could actually be harmful if we have the sheriff department coming in.”

Rita Gadient, a 20-year resident, agrees on the relationship the police department has had with the town over the years.

“They’re excellent. They’re friendly, they’re very perceptive. They’re awesome. I live here because it’s a safe town, safe community and that’s very important.”

While no changes will be considered until Thursday’s city council meeting, the Zumbrota Police Department wants people to know they’re committed to serving this community without distractions on what their future holds.

Zumbrota PD union steward, Tony Pasquale, shared the following statement with ABC 6 News:
“We remain committed to faithfully serving the City of Zumbrota and hopeful that this will be resolved in a manner that allows us to continue to serve. Our members appreciate the outpouring of support that has been expressed thus far and ask that community members continue to have respectful discussions about the issue.”

The news still troubles people like Walters and Gadient enough, that they worry what will happen to Zumbrota without a police force and if they’ll continue to live here.

“You know what, it would not be the same, it would not be good, and I would probably consider moving,” said Gadient.

“I might be moving to Red Wing, a little more resources there, but I mean this is a good town, so if I do miss it, I’m sure I’ll hear about it, but yeah. I’m bummed to hear about it,” Walters said.

The current contract between the city and police department goes through the end of 2025. The city will be hosting an additional town hall on the matter, seperate from Thursday’s council meeting, before the month is over.