Gallatin County’s sheriff has canceled his plans to send deputies to help police oil pipeline protests in North Dakota after a wave of critical feedback from residents.
Sheriff Brian Gootkin said that after news broke Wednesday that he would take four deputies to protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, he received numerous calls and emails from people urging him not to send the deputies.
Gootkin said he had some “very respectful and very positive” conversations with folks and, after thinking about it overnight, decided against sending his deputies. “I serve the people, and the people have spoken,” Gootkin said.
On Wednesday, Gootkin announced that the deputies would head to Standing Rock after North Dakota requested law enforcement assistance from other states. He said he was awaiting approval from Gov. Steve Bullock to send his deputies.
Many people reached out to the sheriff to voice their concerns.
“They don’t want their sheriff’s office going over there,” Gootkin said. “They want us here taking care of them.”
Gootkin called it a tough decision to cancel his trip, saying he was concerned for both law enforcement and the law-abiding, peaceful protesters.
North Dakota requested help from Montana under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, an agreement between all 50 states that requires approval by both the governor and the Montana Department of Emergency Services.
Montana has already sent 10 highway patrol troopers to assist with protests, paid for by North Dakota.
Protesters have been marching against the construction of the 1,200-mile Dakota Access oil pipeline, saying that the line could harm drinking water and damage sacred sites at the reservation.
There have been more than 400 arrests since August after protesters clashed with law enforcement.