As North Dakota’s top federal law enforcement official, I have spent the last five weeks engaged with our state and local law enforcement partners working to ensure public safety in the pipeline controversy near Standing Rock. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, as well as all our federal law enforcement partners, stand shoulder-to-shoulder with these professionals from all over North Dakota. We will use all available tools given to us at the federal level to make sure the rule of law is followed and to assist state authorities in protecting and promoting public safety.
I have personally spent many hours within the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and there are some things that the public may not be aware of that are important to share.
Strong Leadership Team Committed to a Peaceful Resolution
Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney, ND Highway Patrol Colonel Michael Gerhart Jr., and ND National Guard Adjutant General Alan Dohrmann are a cohesive and strong leadership team which has been steadfast in their mission from the start: to protect First Amendment rights, to preserve the right to lawfully work, and to ensure the safety of everyone, including the general public. These leaders and their teams continue to explore all diplomatic options to resolve the dispute peacefully.
[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]These law enforcement professionals have shown remarkable restraint when faced with threatening situations. They remain committed to de-escalating tensions and to facilitating an environment that allows for a peaceful resolution.[/mks_pullquote]
These law enforcement professionals have shown remarkable restraint when faced with threatening situations. They remain committed to de-escalating tensions and to facilitating an environment that allows for a peaceful resolution. Make no mistake, if people choose to break the law, they will be arrested.
Multiple Law Enforcement Agencies from Across the State Join the Effort
What is particularly impressive about this situation is the fact that when a Sheriff or Chief of Police needs help in North Dakota, our law enforcement partners in the state will answer the call. Scores of law enforcement and public safety officials from outside of Morton County have been working behind the scenes at the EOC. These professionals have provided strong leadership and have been steadfast partners in this effort to ensure public safety.
These men and women from outside of Morton County are spending time away from family, missing band concerts, sporting events, and even birthdays of their children to ensure that Constitutional rights are protected and everyone involved in the process stays safe. These professionals face continual threats to themselves and their families; each time they hit the street there is a chance they will not make it home. To merely say “thank you” seems seriously inadequate.
City and County Leadership Deserve Credit for Supporting Partnership
Morton County leaders have exhibited strong and steady leadership and support in this situation and every Morton County agency has pitched in at some level to support the mission. Despite the financial burden and personal toll on County employees, attitudes and effort levels remain high.
Some in the community may complain that the various sheriffs assisting Morton County are working outside their own counties; that criticism is short-sighted. Public safety issues and criminal activities do not respect jurisdictional boundaries. If another county needs help, we know Morton County and our other partners will show up in force. That is how it works, and should work. So a “high-five” needs to be given to those city and county commissioners who have supported their police and sheriff departments to help Morton County. They truly understand the need in North Dakota to work as a team and when your city or county needs help, they will always be there.
Resolve to Ensure Public Safety Will Not Waiver
To describe this situation as complex is a vast understatement. Unfortunately, there is no short-term end in sight as the legal and political issues continue to play out. No matter what the time frame, the professional men and women of law enforcement in North Dakota will continue to put their lives on the line to ensure the rule of law is followed, public order is maintained, and that everyone is safe.
Regardless of your perspective on the numerous complex issues, we should all agree our state and local law enforcement deserve a heartfelt “thank you.”