- Associated Press - Saturday, February 18, 2017

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota is still owed hundreds of thousands of dollars for helping North Dakota law enforcement during protests over the Dakota Access oil pipeline, and the bill keeps getting bigger.

South Dakota state troopers have gone to southern North Dakota four times to assist. Its troopers are in Morton County, North Dakota, for their second rotation of 2017.

Thousands of people have traveled to the site near the Standing Rock reservation where the $3.8 billion pipeline would pass under Lake Oahe to express opposition to the four-state pipeline, though the camps thinned considerably as winter set in. The camp area has been the site of numerous and sometimes violent clashes between police and protesters. There have been more than 700 arrests in the region since August.

South Dakota was one of nine states to offer assistance since the protests ramped up. Officers from 33 out-of-state agencies traveled there to help. The most recent figures posted by the Morton County Sheriff’s Office put the total cost to state and local agencies at $32.9 million.

So far, South Dakota has been repaid about $84,000 of the more than $303,000 it is owed for its first two deployments in October and November, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported (https://argusne.ws/2luyiOq ). Department of Public Safety spokesman Tony Mangan said the bill represents nearly 6,400 man-hours.

The payments are trickling in as North Dakota lawmakers debate funding for the ongoing operations, and as lawmakers in both Dakotas debate how to handle future protests. Legislators in both states have proposed tougher penalties for protesters.

Each South Dakota Highway Patrol deployment came after a request through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which allows agencies to call in assistance from other states when needed. States that invoke the compact are expected to pay back the assisting states.

The Department of Public Safety is not concerned about getting repaid, Mangan said. The cost of its current deployment, which began Jan. 27, has yet to be calculated. South Dakota does not release the number of troopers it has sent, citing security reasons.

“We submit it to North Dakota, and they deal with it,” Mangan said. “It takes us some time to get all the expenses totaled up and sent to them.”


Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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