Expenses Likely Reimbursed to Aitkin County

Expenses Likely Reimbursed to Aitkin County

November 9, 2021 News News -- KKIN-KFGI-KLKS-WWWI 0


For several years, Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office staff have been training for the Line 3 pipeline replacement project. This training was justified from familiarity of DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline) and other protested pipelines. The training was 100% intended to reduce issues in Aitkin County through sound policing, knowledge of constitutional rights, and an awareness of the laws and processes. Like any large project, this project went through extensive governmental review and delays, and in December 2020, the project started in Aitkin County.

Over the next nine months Aitkin County Law Enforcement (LE) used the training and skills learned on a daily basis. When we needed assistance outside agencies came to help, to include the MN State Patrol, MN DNR, and many other great LE agencies from MN. We supported the rights of demonstrators who, while following the laws of MN, were here to voice their opinions to all who would listen. Our teams disconnected and detained people from sophisticated devices used to attract national media coverage. We investigated crimes and arrested protestors who intentionally violated laws in an effort to get the court system to listen in hopes the project would be stopped. We also arrested criminals that were here to cause civil unrest, with no respect to public laws or authority, and we responded to the needs of the residents facing issues related to this project.

In those nine months, LE met with leadership from the constructions crews and leadership from the opposition to the project. We shared space with both sides, and spent our time in the middle of the situation, keeping the peace. We have seen things no one could have predicted for northern MN. We have listened to chants disrespectful to our officers and ignored them, choosing to take the high road, and we treated everyone with respect and dignity.

The dedicated staff and resources of this department were challenged, and they rose to the occasion. For all the employees this has been a very exhausting effort and the staff of the Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office is pleased the process is over. We have resumed normal staffing levels, normal patrols, and normal day-to-day operations.

At the beginning of this process, the MN Public Utilities Commission required Enbridge to establish an escrow account to reimburse local agencies for their response to Line 3.  This account was established to help northern agencies prepare for the large-scale event. The MN PUC account ensured local taxpayers would not carry the cost of the response.

The project is complete and we have gone back and reviewed the expenses. Our LE road staff and those responding to scenes spent approximately 4,373 hours on public safety response for Line 3. The Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office staff also spent 450 staff hours in specific training for the pipeline construction. These expenses will be submitted to the PUC escrow account manager for reimbursement within 180 days of the project completion.

Sheriff Dan Guida