After Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright during an April 11 traffic stop, Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson wrote a letter dated April 14 to Mayor Mike Elliott asking if the city still needs help from the regional police command, or if the command should be stood down.
“Today, at a press conference, you expressed concern about last night's joint operations and the role of the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office,” Hutchinson wrote. “The city's actions since Sunday evening have created significant confusion. In order to maintain peace and safety, it is critical that the city of Brooklyn Center communicate with its state, county and local law enforcement partners regarding its ongoing need for mutual aid.”
In the days after the shooting, Brooklyn Center's City Council fired former City Manager Curt Boganey and gave Elliott command of the Police Department. Deputy City Manager Reggie Edwards was appointed to serve as acting city manger.
Former Police Chief Tim Gannon also resigned from his post. Commander of the patrol division Tony Gruenig was appointed as acting chief of police.
While the City Council adopted a resolution restricting the Brooklyn Center Police Department's use of crowd control tactics, banning the use of tear gas and other chemical agents on peaceful protesters, a mayoral emergency proclamation later clarified that the resolution does not apply to joint law enforcement operations in a mutual aid agreement, or to assistance provided the Minnesota National Guard or State Patrol.
Elliott has publicly questioned the use of these tactics in press conferences.
“I stand with the position of my City Council, which is that we have to approach policing in a different way, in a more humane way," he said April 14. "Gassing, in my opinion, is not a humane way of policing.
“We've relayed the resolution that the City Council passed, we've conveyed those sentiments to the Sheriff's Office.”
Hutchinson questioned the comments, given the city's request for aid.
He asked Elliott to confirm that the city is continuing to request mutual aid from the partner agencies.
“We will continue to use the least harmful tools we have available to preserve and protect protests, peoples' First Amendment right,” Hutchinson said in a late-night press conference following protests April 14. “I'll say it one more time. … We are not going to abandon the people of Brooklyn Center no matter what.”
Who is providing law enforcement aid?
Following the shooting of Wright, Brooklyn Center declared a state of emergency and requested assistance and mutual aid from both state and local law enforcement agencies.
The joint law enforcement response providing assistance has included the Hennepin County Chief of Police Association and the West Command Mobile Field Force, which operates under a mutual aid pact administered by the Sheriff's Office.
Operation Safety Net, which included partners such as the Minnesota National Guard, the Minnesota State Patrol, and other local agencies, has also assisted. This collaborative effort was initially assembled to respond to civil unrest related to the Derek Chauvin trial.