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Deputies keep IDs hidden at protest

Posted 11/08/16 (Tue)

By Cecile Wehrman
Divide County deputies are among dozens from all of over the state who have been called on to support the Morton County Sheriff’s Department as they respond to a growing encampment of people protesting the construction of an oil pipeline south of Bismarck.
But Divide County Sheriff Lauren Throntveit won’t tell you the names of his staff who have helped out -- to protect them from potential harassment on their off time.
“They’re following some of the officers home in Bismarck,” Throntveit said, and he claims there is also evidence of people being harassed online.
“They’re doing all kinds of things via computers,” Throntveit alleges.
Four Divide County deputies have spent time covering the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, usually for six or seven days at a time, but some for only two or three days.
“It’s just to help fill in the gaps,” said Throntveit, “because they called and needed help.”
While the state has authorized money to assist Morton in dealing with the need for additional law enforcement, Throntveit doesn’t know exactly how or when his deputies will be paid for their time.
“They’ve got to turn in vouchers, but we don’t know who is paying who,” at this point.
The deputies who have gone so far have been able to lodge with friends closer to the protest site, rather than rent motel rooms.
Once in the protest area, officers from outlying areas are paired with local team members more familiar with the terrain and tactics.
“I think it’s a learning experience for everybody,” Throntveit said, because civil demonstrations of the size and magnitude being staged near the pipeline construction have rarely been seen in North Dakota. 
Counties from across the state have responded to Morton’s call for help, the same as they would hope to receive assistance if the protest were occurring in their county.
“I think about every county has sent people down at one time or another,” the sheriff said. “It’s a situation where, they called for help -- we’ve got to show up -- because someday it could be us.”