I had Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney on air with me on a somber day for North Dakota.
Last night a Rolette County deputy was killed in the line of duty. Three other deputies are currently on leave. The shooter also died.
“Our hearts are breaking again,” Sheriff Laney told me, noting that it was just roughly a year ago that Fargo Police Department Officer Jason Moszer was killed in the line of duty.
Laney says it’s been a tough year for state law enforcement between Moszer’s death, months of abuse and attacks from violent pipeline protesters, and now this latest incident in Rolette County.
“The hits keep coming,” he said.
Speaking of the Dakota Access situation, Laney said he’s been focused on his job in Cass County since mid-December but that he’s in “constant contact” with authorities working the protest site. He also said Cass County deputies continue to serve at the protest site.
[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]Laney says it’s been a tough year for state law enforcement between Moszer’s death, months of abuse and attacks from violent pipeline protesters, and now this latest incident in Rolette County. “The hits keep coming,” he said.[/mks_pullquote]
“They’ve started to push the envelope again,” Laney said of increased protest activities of late, adding that he hopes the incoming Trump administration will end the Obama administration’s policy of largely denying federal law enforcement resources to help keep the peace in the area.
I also asked Laney about controversy over some of his recent comments about the protests in a media interview. “It’s like it became the mecca for every eco-terrorist, I call them, every eco-person out there,” he said in an interview with The Forum Editorial Board. “It was like 140 years of perceived Native American oppression came together there.”
That comment about “perceived” oppression earned Laney a scolding in some letters to the editor (case in point).
“There’s no doubt since Europeans landed on our shores that there’s been conflicts,” Laney said, adding that he has Native Americans in his family. He said his comments in the interview were intended to reflect the claims from some protesters that the pipeline construction was another example of broken treaties and historic oppression.
Laney said there is nothing Morton County, or the State of North Dakota, can do about those issues. “Those conversations need to be held with the federal government.”
I asked Laney what bills he might have his eye on down at the legislative session in Bismarck. He said legislation concerning corrections, weapons in schools, and fees for the state’s 911 and radio systems were on his radar.
Here’s our full interview: