Sheriff expresses fears for future officer recruiting

The Crow Wing sheriff said Tuesday he felt he needed to clear up misconceptions about law enforcement training while also noting his sympathy for Floyd, who died after former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was recorded holding his knee of Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

Crow Wing County Sheriff Scott Goddard shares his views Tuesday, June 9, on the George Floyd death and ensuing protests nationwide and their affect on law enforcement. Chelsey Perkins / Brainerd Dispatch

Crow Wing County Sheriff Scott Goddard said he’s concerned about the future of recruiting law enforcement officers as protests across the country continue in response to the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd in police custody.

Goddard shared his concerns with the Crow Wing County Board Tuesday, June 9, after updating commissioners on the sheriff’s office involvement in providing assistance to agencies responding to protests in the Twin Cities metro area.

Responding to a statewide request for resources May 29-30, the sheriff’s office supplied a seven-person correctional officer team to act as a mobile booking station and an eight-person mobile field force team of deputies. The team of deputies was first stationed in downtown Minneapolis before being transferred to the State Capitol in St. Paul. Chief Deputy Dave Fischer told commissioners at a June 1 personnel committee meeting the teams didn’t have much interaction with protesters.

Goddard said Tuesday he felt he needed to clear up misconceptions about law enforcement training while also noting his sympathy for Floyd, who died after former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was recorded holding his knee of Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Chauvin has since been charged with second-degree murder without premeditation and second-degree manslaughter, alongside three other officers charged with aiding and abetting those crimes.

“I’ll be first to admit, Mr. Floyd should be still on Earth with us today, no doubt about it,” Goddard said. “What the officers did in my mind was completely wrong. The training that we have received, the training we give our deputies here in Crow Wing County, does not mirror anything that took place in that video. Never has, never will.”


The sheriff said the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training, or POST Board, has mandated de-escalation and bias training for two years, and the sheriff’s office began its own internal de-escalation training two years ahead of the mandate.

“Will we see some new things coming down the pipeline? I’m certain, I’m certain that we will,” Goddard said. “We’re not living in the Stone Age, which I think some articles and some headlines out there would lead you to believe.”

Chairman Paul Koering asked Goddard his opinion on whether police unions play a role in preventing the removal of problematic officers.

“There’s some bad cops, there’s no doubt about it. I’ve seen it on TV. I’ve seen a 75-year-old guy protesting and the cops shoved him, down he went, blood coming out of his ears,” Koering said, referencing an incident in Buffalo, New York. “My question is, because I’ve heard it many, many, many times on the news, is they said that the main problem is the unions protect people that are the bad apples. Any comment on that?”

Goddard said earlier in his career, he worked as a background investigator tasked with looking into the character, schooling, education, past jobs and more of people who’ve applied to become part of the sheriff’s office. He said in the past, there was no database tracking this information, but now the POST Board requires it be notified of results of background investigations.

While this doesn’t apply to current officers, Goddard said it helps to prevent someone with concerning past actions from joining a department. Goddard acknowledged there may be barriers to addressing bad officer behavior.

“There are far too many overbroadened steps in my mind that we need to jump through,” the sheriff said. “I’ve read a number of articles and saw a number of comments made on that exact topic. Is there too many protections out there, when you have a bad officer?”

But Goddard said it’s frustrating to hear all law enforcement officers painted with the same brush when a few are the problem.


“What I don’t like is, it seems every time something like this happens, all cops are thrown into one group. And everyone is viewed as one,” he said. “ … We’re one of the few, few, few, employee or job descriptions that match that. We don’t see it in doctors when a doctor does something wrong. We don’t see it in lawyers, we don’t see it in pastors even when a church does something.”

Goddard said he’s troubled by how this anti-police attitude may affect future recruitment efforts.

“What scares me is who is going to want to go into this profession in the next few years?” he said. “They talk about defunding police, that’s not going to be the issue. The issue is going to be there’s not going to be anybody wanting to go into the profession unless the attitude changes pretty quick here.”

Koering said the idea of defunding police departments made no sense to him, and he appreciated that the sheriff’s office responded when people call 911.

“It almost seems like we’re in the twilight zone, the anarchy that our society would see without us,” Goddard said. “ … We’re the only people in our society that are actually allowed to have physical contact with another person. We are given that right. And it’s a very responsible right that we take. We are actually able to take someone’s liberties, bring them from their house often, arrest them, and bring them into a jail. … And it’s something that’s a very heavy burden on us but it’s something that we signed up to do and we’re proud to do it.

“ … One of the first things brought over on the ships was the idea of having a sheriff. The idea back then was to collect taxes, they wanted to make sure they got their money. But law enforcement is heavily ingrained in our society, all the way back to when we first formed, and I can’t see it changing now.”

Koering echoed Goddard’s concerns about recruitment, but noted the impact a bad officer could have on the image of a department.

“When I was a little boy, I think there was a lot of people that said, ‘I want to be a police officer or a fireman,’ and I think we’re going to be hardpressed to find anybody that wants to go into law enforcement, the way it looks now,” Koering said. “And God bless the people that are in there. But I say, if you’ve got a bad one, it’s going to make your whole department look bad. Get them the hell out of there before the whole thing blows up.”


CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 218-855-5874 or . Follow on Twitter at .
Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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