Dayton administration approved sending MN law enforcement to ND protest
Lt. Gov. Tina Smith used Facebook to make Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek the bad guy for sending a contingent of 30 deputies to reinforce North Dakota authorities in the showdown with protesters over the Dakota Access Pipeline.
I do not support Sheriff Stanek’s decision to send his deputies to North Dakota, nor did we approve his decision to begin with. I do not have any control over the Sheriff’s actions, which I think were wrong, and I believe he should being his deputies home, if he hasn’t already. I strongly support the rights of all people to peacefully protest, including, tonight, the Standing Rock protest.
Sixteen current state lawmakers have also signed a letter calling out Stanek for putatively supporting the pipeline. News accounts placed at least one legislator at the noisy protest outside the sheriff’s office last Friday.
Demonstrators held signs reading “No DAPL” and demanded that Hennepin County withdraw its deputies from North Dakota. State Rep. Karen Clark, D-Minn., read a letter to Stanek asking that deputies be brought home.
As it turns out, the legislators should have written their letter to Smith. Governor Mark Dayton’s administration is responsible for signing off on the operation to send Minnesota law enforcement officers to hold the line against the left’s latest cause celebre in North Dakota.
In a blistering letter of his own, Sheriff Stanek schooled the legislators on how the mobilization materialized when state homeland security officials responded to an urgent request from North Dakota.
The Governor’s Office and the State of Minnesota authorized the mission, signed the contract, secured the reimbursement agreement and approved the plan two days before deputies departed for North Dakota.
The request came in under the Emergency Management Assistant Compact (EMAC) system adopted in all 50 states to make sure essential personnel and resources are made available for any catastrophe that occurs anywhere in the country.
As elected officials, you should understand the importance of mutual aid agreements among states and law enforcement agencies. Mutual Aid agreements are an operational reality for all law enforcement agencies small and large. Every large event in the State of Minnesota is likely to include partnerships among law enforcement agencies to protect public safety and preserve the peace. The All-Star Game, the upcoming Super Bowl, national conferences, the Minneapolis Tornado, the 35W Bridge collapse all are exmples of incidents, events and and/or emergencies where law enforcement personnel and resources were or will be shared among jurisdictions.
The top law enforcement officer for Minnesota’s most populous county also reminded them politics should play no part in responding to such requests.
The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office takes no position on the merits of the North Dakota pipeline dispute. However, deputies from my Agency were deployed through the State of Minnesota on an “EMAC Mission.” This was not a political, but an operational response to a request for assistance. Contrary to the claims in your letter, we have not picked a side, our mission is to assist in maintaining public safety, preserving the peace, and protecting the constitutional rights of protesters.
By politicizing the process, the lawmakers were put on notice that their actions could put the public safety of Minnesotans at risk.
We know that we may have to make a similar call one day, and because of the EMAC system we won’t have to wonder whether help will arrive when it is needed for our residents and for our communities. If you make mutual aid political, it will jeopardize the public safety of residents all across the State of Minnesota and in your communities.
Stanek may have saved the best for last.
I am still willing to meet with you, but we would all be best served if we could be joined by Lt. Governor Tina Smith so we could all confirm the facts and set the record straight.
So far, no reports of pipeline protesters or angry legislators lining up outside Smith or the governor’s office.