Sheriffs Across US Refusing To Send Police And Equipment To DAPL As Outrage And Costs Grow


By: Claire Bernish / The Free Thought Project  

In response to an increasingly furious public outcry, sheriffs from around the country have refused to send personnel and equipment to assist the Morton County Sheriff’s Department in guarding construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

A massive campaign of angry phone calls and indignant emails to departments planning to travel to North Dakota succeeded in persuading multiple sheriffs — elected officials — the brutal tactics used against peaceful Standing Rock Sioux and other water protectors have been a gross abuse of power.

That law enforcement have employed disproportionate force against water protectors is irrefutable; and while Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier might technically be tasked with ensuring Dakota Access can proceed where legally permitted, he is indisputably responsible for protecting people exercising their First Amendment rights.

Clearly, to the appalled constituents and people around the world voicing outrage against Morton County and other departments, officers have completely dismissed that protection — and, instead, acted as a rogue standing army, intentionally targeting medics, journalists, and water protectors with everything from rubber bullets and tear gas, to icy water and concussion grenades.

Sheriffs concerned about the heinous use of force — not to mention, re-election — have wisely reconsidered requests to join what has, in essence, become a war against Indigenous peoples interested only in preserving uncontaminated water for future generations.

According to Yes! Magazine’s Jenni Monet, those considerations coupled with vocal public objections caused Montana’s Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin to “literally turn his detail around” — after they departed for North Dakota.

“I got messages from England, Poland, New Zealand, Australia,” Gootkin said, according to Yes! Magazine. “I wanted to go and help my fellow law enforcement. I just don’t understand where we separated from the public. It really breaks my heart. We are not the enemy.”

Monet explains despite the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), which mandates law enforcement nationwide to lend assistance during emergencies or disasters, Governor Steve Bullock had concerns the agreement was being misused. A flood of callers and emailers doubted EMAC should apply to the protection of a private Big Oil company’s pipeline, when it seemed more aptly suited for situations like natural disasters and the attacks of September 11, 2001.

On November 14, Gootkin explained his decision not to join the Morton County Sheriff’s Department in acting against the Standing Rock water protectors in a post to social media:

“Yesterday I had made a decision to send Deputies to the protest in North Dakota to help with that volatile situation. I have been in protest situations in my career and fully understand that in many cases law enforcement is placed in the middle of two emotional opposing interests and we have to attempt to balance our role as peace officer and law enforcement. Many of you emailed and called the Office to voice your concerns. As your Sheriff I was very humbled by the honest conversations we had. Although my actions were well-intentioned you made it clear that you do not want your Sheriff’s Office involved in this conflict. One of the biggest differences of an elected Sheriff from other law enforcement leaders is that I am directly accountable to the people I serve (YOU) and although I am personally torn knowing that people (Including Montanans) are hurting over there, we will not be responding. Finally I am incredibly grateful that we live in a place where we can have differences and talk about them respectfully as adults without conflict. Thank you.”

Gootkin and the Gallatin County deputies never made it to North Dakota, but other departments briefly assisted the Morton County Sheriff, and then refused to complete planned rotations, pulled out, and never returned.

Wisconsin’s Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney and his personnel lasted one week policing water protectors before public excoriation forced him to back out of completing a planned three-week rotating deployment. That group of officers left for good and no further personnel were deployed, as Mahoney told the Bismarck Tribune,

“All share the opinion that our deputies should not be involved in this situation.”

Many of the agencies helping to guard pipeline construction have received been lambasted in a furious backlash, and, according to Monet, “the number of law enforcement agencies assisting Morton County has dwindled — in some instances, because of the pipeline’s polarizing effect.”

Minnesota’s Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek and his deputies were praised for their actions clearing what became known as the “1851 Treaty Camp” on October 27. However, water protectors and independent journalists on the scene contend law enforcement brutalized water protectors, disrespectfully disassembled tipis, and refused to allow anyone to gather their belongings. Some claimed when they returned to the scene much later, officers had carelessly thrown tents, clothing, and other items in a pile, leaving all of it damaged and soaked in what seemed to be ammonia and urine.

“I do not have any control over the Sheriff’s actions, which I think were wrong,” Lt. Governor Tina Smith said in a statement cited by Yes! Magazine. “I believe he should bring 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.”

Stanek felt differently and reiterated the nine-day deployment to North Dakota had been “the right thing to do” — but, apparently succumbing to contention, the sheriff said his personnel would not return.

In short, public pressure can be surprisingly effective.

And in that vein, the American Civil Liberties Union compiled the most complete list to date — using information provided officially and that from media reports — of law enforcement departments assisting the Morton County Sheriff and pipeline construction. Some have since returned from those deployments while others may still be present in North Dakota. According to the Morton County Sheriff’s Department at the beginning of November, 24 counties, 16 cities, and nine states have contributed over 1,300 law enforcement personnel and equipment since August 10.

Links to news reports specifically naming departments have been included in the ACLU’s list here.

Considering the success of public outcry in forcing law enforcement to reconsider policing the Standing Rock movement to protect the water, following is the contact information from the websites for the appropriate North Dakota officials and law enforcement departments from all states, as listed by the ACLU.

North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple

600 East Boulevard Avenue

Bismarck, ND 58505-0100

701 – 328 – 2200

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier

205 1st Ave NW

Mandan, ND 58554

701 – 667 – 3330

[email protected]


Beulah Police Department

701 – 873 – 5252

[email protected]

City of Bismarck Police Department

701 – 223 – 1212

Dickinson Police Department

701 – 456 – 7759

City of Fargo Police Department

701 – 241 – 1347

Hazen Police Department

701 – 748 – 2414

Jamestown Police Department

701 – 252 – 2414

Mandan Police Department

Chief Jason J. Ziegler  701 – 667 – 3250

City of Minot Police Department

Chief of Police Jason Olson

701 – 857 – 4715

[email protected]

Steele Police Department

701 – 475 – 2700

Grand Forks Police Department

701 – 787 – 8000

Williston Police Department

701 – 577 – 1212

Chief of Police James Lokken

[email protected]

Rolla City Police

701 – 477 – 5623

West Fargo Police Department

701 – 433 – 5500

Wishek City Police Department

701 – 452 – 2469

Watford City Police Department

701 – 842 – 2280

701 – 444 – 2400

City of Grafton Police Department

Chief of Police Anthony Dumas

701 – 352 – 1411

[email protected]

Burleigh County Sheriff Department

Sheriff Pat Heinert

701 – 222 – 6551

Cass County Sheriff’s Department

Sheriff Paul D. Laney

701 – 241 – 5800

Dunn County Sheriff’s Department

701 – 573 – 4449

Emmons County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Gary Sanders

701 – 254 – 4411

McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office

701 – 444 – 3654

McLean County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Jerry Kerzmann

701 – 462 – 8103

[email protected]

Mercer County Sheriff’s Office

701 – 745 – 3333

Stark County Sheriff’s Department

Sheriff Terry Oestreich

701 – 456 – 7610

Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office

701 – 252 – 9000

Ward County Sheriff’s Department

Sheriff Steve Kukowski

701 – 857 – 6500

Williams County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Scott Busching

Williams County Law Enforcement

701 – 577 – 7700

Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Department

701 – 780 – 8280

Divide County Sheriff’s Department

Sheriff Lauren W. Throntveit

701 – 965 – 6461

Kidder County Sheriff’s Department

Sheriff Brandt Weisenburger

701 – 475 – 2422

Grant County Sheriff

[no phone listed]

106 2nd Ave. NE

Carson, ND 58529

Bowman County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Rory M. Teigen

701 – 523 – 5421

Benson County Sheriff’s Department

Sheriff Steven Rohrer

701 – 473 – 5357

[email protected]

Burke County Sheriff’s Department

Sheriff Jeremy Grohs

701 – 377 – 2311

McIntosh County Sheriff’s Office

701 – 288 – 5140 [ext. 7]

Barnes County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Randy McClaflin

701 – 845 – 8530

Bottineau County Sheriff Department

Sheriff Steve Watson

701 – 228 – 6720

[email protected]

Logan County Sheriff’s Department

Sheriff Andrew Bartholomaus

701 – 754 – 2495

[email protected]

Traill County Sheriff’s Department

Sheriff Steve Hunt

701 – 636 – 4510


Pennington County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Kevin Thom

605 – 394 – 6113

South Dakota Highway Patrol

Division Headquarters

605 – 773 – 3105


St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office

985 – 783 – 6237

[staff directory]


Wisconsin State Patrol

Division Headquarters

Superintendent J.D. Lind

Colonel Charles R. Teasdale

844 – 847 – 1234

Dane County Sheriff’s Department

Sheriff David J. Mahoney

608 – 284 – 6800 [main number]

St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff John Shilts

715 – 381 – 4320

Rock County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Robert D. Spoden

608 – 757 – 7948

Marathon County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Scott Parks

715 – 261 – 1200


Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Richard W. Stanek

612 – 348 – 3744

Anoka County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff James Stuart

763 – 323 – 5000

Washington County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff William M. Hutton

651 – 439 – 9381


Wyoming Highway Patrol

307 – 777 – 4301

Laramie County Sheriff’s Department

Sheriff Danny Glick

301 – 633 – 4700


Nebraska State Patrol

402 – 471 – 4545


Lake County Sheriff’s Department

Sheriff John Buncich

219 – 755 – 3333

Schererville Police Department

219 – 322 – 5000

Hammond Police Department

Chief of Police John D Doughty

219 – 852 – 2900

Griffith Police Department

219 – 924 – 7503

Michigan City Police Department

219 – 874 – 3221

Munster Police Department

Chief of Police Steve Scheckel

219 – 836 – 6655

Indiana Department of Natural Resources

877 – 463 – 6367

317 – 232 – 4200

Marion County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff John R. Layton

317 – 327 – 1700

Brookville Police Department

765 – 647 – 4178

Porter County Sheriff’s Department

219 – 477 – 3000

LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office

800 – 548 – 5374

219 – 326 – 7700

Jasper County Sheriff’s Department

219 – 866 – 4950

Newton County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Thomas VanVleet

219 – 474 – 3331


Ohio State Highway Patrol

[no non-emergency phone number provided]

[email protected]

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This article (Sheriffs Across US Refusing To Send Police And Equipment To DAPL As Outrage And Costs Grow) by Claire Bernish originally appeared on The Free Thought Project.

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