National sheriffs group pledges help with Dakota Access pipeline policing

N.D. National Guard control pipeline site access.
File photo: The North Dakota National Guard replaced local police at controlling access to the pipeline construction site near the Standing Rock Reservation on Sept. 9, 2016.
Christopher Juhn for MPR News File

A national law enforcement group said Thursday it is lending its support to authorities who are policing the Dakota Access pipeline protest in North Dakota.

Sheriffs around the country are willing to send officers and lend their expertise to Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, said Laramie County, Wyoming, Sheriff Danny Glick, who is the past president of the National Sheriffs' Association and has spent the last few days in North Dakota.

"When we get a call from Sheriff Kirchmeier that he needs assistance, we are ready to respond," Glick said during a news conference in Bismarck.

Kirchmeier said his department of 34 officers welcomes the help. He said a total of 268 local law enforcement officers and 154 Highway Patrol troopers from around the state have been in Morton County over the last two months.

"We have basically tapped the resources to a level that we have never seen in North Dakota for one particular incident," Kirchmeier said.

Thousands of people have joined the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe encampment in what has been called the largest gathering of Native American tribes in a century. Some of the protests have expanded to other construction sites along the pipeline route, which crosses through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.

Kirchmeier said he supports the right for people to "peacefully and lawfully" protest, but cited the "influence of outside agitators" as a problem. He said 82 of the 96 people arrested since mid-August are from outside of North Dakota, including from 25 states and two Canadian provinces.

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.