MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota National Guard says its soldiers and airmen are ready to answer the call for whatever arises during the Derek Chauvin trial. Some members have already been activated, with more expected soon as opening statements start Monday. They say lessons learned could help keep our streets safe.
Members of the Minnesota National Guard first answered the call at the height of the civil unrest last May, as riots raged and buildings burned in the wake of George Floyd’s death.READ MORE: How To Watch The Derek Chauvin Trial, ‘The Biggest Case In Minnesota History’
“Last time was no notice, (it) kind of went from 0 to 100 pretty fast. So we had to learn from our own planning and actions that we took,” Director of Operations Col. Scott Rohweder said.
Since then, members have been activated for missions when there’s been a potential for unrest. And during that time, Rohweder says they have reevaluated the response.
“We’ve had the better part of a year to continue to improve, work with the different law enforcement agencies, different cities, the state planners, and develop a well-coordinated plan,” Rohweder said.
Part of that includes expanding certain training to all soldiers and airmen.
“The specific National Guard reaction force training is more your riot control-type training. We just made sure that all the units are trained in those tasks and prepared to execute those types of duties,” Rohweder said.
Most often the Guard expects to be called for traffic control or on-site security to assist police — typical missions during wartime, and now peacetime stateside.
“We’re there to help them, assist them in providing like area security for different types of operations. Things that if we weren’t there it would take a lot more law enforcement officers to accomplish the mission,” Col. Rohweder said.READ MORE: A Seat-By-Seat Look At The Jury In The Derek Chauvin Trial
Inside the Armory in St. Paul is the Minnesota Joint Operations Center where they receive reports, issue guidance and track operations.
“Typically during a state active duty operation, we’re fully manned, quite a bit of people in here doing a lot of different operations,” Rohweder said.
During the trial, they’ll keep eyes on members who are called to serve. Minnesota National Guard is already visible outside the Hennepin County Government Center. They are the first activated for Operation Safety Net, the joint law enforcement effort during the Chauvin trial.
“The reason we’re out there is to ensure that everybody can exercise their freedom of speech and their constitutional rights, but at the same aspects we need to make sure we’re protecting property out there as well,” Rohweder said,
Rohweder says they hope things stay calm, and that all the planning was for nothing.
“These are just precautions to ensure the safety of everyone involved. We’re very capable and ready to respond in any type of crisis event,” Col. Rohweder said
The National Guard currently has about 100 members activated. The numbers could swell into the hundreds or thousands, depending on what happens.