Law Enforcement Prepares for Derek Chauvin Trial

Olivia Allery, staff writer
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo speaks at a February 17th press conference about Operation Safety Net, surrounded by fellow law enforcement and city officials. Screenshotted by Danny Reinan.

The trial proceedings of Derek Chauvin, one of the four policeman involved in the murder of George Floyd, are set to start in the upcoming weeks with the first day and jury selection happening on March 8th. Opening statements are expected to start around March 29th and the trial could possibly carry on until mid-April. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

With the eight months of unrest that came before it, there is a lot of anticipation building to Chauvin’s trial. City and law enforcement officials expect that it will be met with demostrations and protests, since it will be a revisit of Floyd’s brutal murder last summer. Much criticism has been lobbied at city and law enforcement officials over their handling of last summer’s demonstrations, with Governor Tim Walz describing the city’s response as an “abject failure” in a press conference in May 2020. In order to ensure the same mistakes are not repeated, city and state officials have been working on a new plan to ensure the safety of the city and the general public, unveiling the plan at a press conference last week.

This safety plan, named Operation Safety Net, is a collaboration between twelve agencies throughout the metro area, including Minneapolis and St. Paul police, the Hennepin and Ramsey county Sheriff’s offices, the State Patrol and the National Guard. The plan has been laid out in four distinct phases, with law enforcement presence said to increase as the trial proceedings continue. Officer presence will be at its highest when closing arguments are spoken and a verdict is reached. 

The majority of the officers and National Guard will be around the downtown area where City Hall and the Hennepin County Government Center are located. City officials have stated that people should be ready for road and sidewalk closures around this area of downtown Minneapolis and Sixth Street South starting on March 1. Even though there is the possibility of closures though, the plan is only precautionary. “As of right now I don’t see a whole lot we’re concerned about,” said County Sheriff David Hutchinson at last week’s press conference.

Along with the increase of law enforcement, city officials are also working on increasing the number of 911 dispatchers in call centers to reduce the stress on the system. Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington is also trying to reach out to the Minnesota Grocers Association to ensure that businesses that were damaged last summer can prepare.

The Augsburg Department of Public Safety (DPS) is fully aware of Operation Safety Net and has their own suggestions of how to stay safe for the event. 

“As of now, we are not expecting any activity on or around the Augsburg campus for the beginning of Derek Chauvin’s trial on March 8,” says DPS Director Tony Erchul. “However, we are aware of a few groups planning demonstrations downtown near the courthouse on March 8. If anyone in our community is planning to attend demonstrations we want them to be aware of their surroundings, have a safe meeting place and planned route away from the demonstration in case any violence occurs, and to continue to comply with COVID safety guidelines.” He also recommends that any students who will be attending demonstrations get a COVID-19 test 3-5 days afterwards in order to reduce community spread of the virus. 

DPS encourages all Augsburg students to sign up for Augsburg Alerts for any emergency updates. Any non-emergency updates will be through A-mail, posted to the DPS website or through email. Students experiencing an immediate emergency may contact DPS at 612-330-1717.

Minneapolis State Patrol Colonel Matt Langer presents Operation Safety Net at a February 17th press conference. Screenshotted by Danny Reinan.