Five Douglas County Sheriff deputies, including Chief Deputy Jason Peterson, have been helping out in the Twin Cities metro area after last weekend’s protest/riots that took place in response to the death of George Floyd.
Peterson, who has more than 25 years of service with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, said when the request for extra law enforcement was received, he was more than willing to go.
For him, it is about protecting the public, keeping the peace and supporting his brothers and sisters in blue, as well as all the other agencies that are helping, such as the National Guard.
“Our job is to make sure it’s safe for everyone,” said Peterson.
When the deputies arrive in the metro, they go to the staging area/command center to check in with their badge numbers. This is the site where all the police officers, deputies, troopers and National Guard members check in.
On one of the assignments, Peterson, along with two other Douglas County deputies, were assigned to ride with and help out Hennepin County Medical Center paramedics.
The deputies donned their full gear, including their helmets and Kevlar vests, said Peterson.
During that assignment, Peterson said they were stationed on Lake Street, just a few blocks away from where Floyd died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck during a traffic stop..
They went on a few calls, including an assault and a car crash. He said their main goal was to secure the perimeter of wherever and whatever was happening so that the paramedics could take care of the injured.
Peterson said there were a lot of people out walking past the curfew that was set forth by the governor, but noted that many stopped and thanked them for being there. He said there were also some who were not so thankful, but that there weren’t any incidents or problems that arose because of it.
“We were there securing the perimeter and making sure it was safe,” he said.
He said the deputies never knew what their assignments were going to be, but just did what they were told to do. The whole experience, he said, was interesting.
“You have so much backup and support, which was the biggest thing for us – supporting all the other agencies,” Peterson said.
Sheriff updates county commissioners
Douglas County Sheriff Troy Wolbersen updated the county commissioners at their Tuesday, June 2, regular board meeting.
He said his deputies have volunteered to go down and help because of the continued requests and that the message from him was clear, “Protect all the people.”
Watching the video of what happened to Floyd was difficult, Wolbersen told the commissioners.
“I can’t condone what I saw on that video,” he stated. “And I have no issues with peaceful protests. It’s the looting and arson that get me. The protesters were trying to make a change, but then you had the criminals that came out at night. These were two different groups.”
Wolbersen said in an interview at the board meeting that his deputies didn’t go to the metro area immediately because they have a responsibility to the people of Douglas County first.
“We need to protect our own,” he said, adding that his department also has responsibilities to neighboring counties and that mutual aid is key.
However, because there were peaceful protests here and there were no major issues despite rumors that there could be, it was decided that Douglas County deputies could go down and help if they wanted to.
“It’s important to help each other out,” he said.