Dayton strikes back at letter critical of North Dakota emergency response

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Gov. Mark Dayton clapped back at criticism Tuesday over his handling of a recent emergency request for assistance from the State of North Dakota, responding to last week’s letter from Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director James Franklin.

The spat started when Franklin wrote the Governor’s office last Wednesday, accusing Dayton of politicizing North Dakota’s request for assistance through the national Emergency Management Assistance Compact last fall by “withholding it from public disclosure.”

Further, Franklin suggested “it may be necessary for sheriffs across this country to develop a new EMAC request for assistance system devoid of political influence and which focuses solely on public safety issues” and invited the governor to a meeting with himself and the board of Minnesota’s Sheriffs’ Association.

Dayton struck back against many of the claims in his own letter, saying he went through the proper channels at the Department of Public Safety and that his denying the request was meant to protect Minnesota law enforcement officers from a dangerous, already politicized situation. He did note that he would be happy to meet with Franklin and the Sheriffs' Association board.

In the past year, three Minnesota law enforcement agencies sent officers to assist North Dakota police in dealing with protestors near the Standing Rock Native American reservation outside of any formal agreement between the two states.

“Additionally, based upon the prior episode in which North Dakota's local law enforcement authorities made their own contacts directly with some of their Minnesota counterparts, I had every reason to assume that they would do so again,” Dayton said in the letter.

As a part of these individual arrangements, Dayton claims in his letter the Minnesota officers served under the command of North Dakota authorities--something that is not allowed under the EMAC.

Dayton also claims North Dakota made similar requests to all 49 other states, including this one sent to Wyoming.

The EMAC, approved by Congress and member states, including Minnesota, in 1996, is meant to streamline the process through which states that declare public emergencies can receive aid. States are required to reimburse other government entities that provide assistance, as well as honor licenses and certifications across state lines.

Each specific request must be approved by the governor of the assisting state, and only then would the requested personnel and equipment would be sent to the affected area.

Then-North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple first declared a state of emergency for the southwest and south central region of his state last August over continuing protests to construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock reservation.