Documents Show Details of Wisconsin EMAC Assistance to Morton County Sheriff

Morton County, ND – In August, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple declared a State of Emergency in reaction to ongoing direct actions and demonstrations against construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in Morton County, near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal reservation.

Dalrymple’s State of Emergency enabled North Dakota law enforcement, specifically the Morton County Sheriff’s Department assisted by the state’s Department of Emergency Services, to take advantage of a program passed 20 years ago under the Bill Clinton presidency, the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (each participating state has a corresponding implementation statute).

The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) authorized states to enter into agreements with other states in order to share emergency management–related personnel during crisis situations. One of the only other times this compact was deployed outside of a natural disaster was for the Black Lives Matter protests in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray…According to a history of EMAC published in September 2014, the compact centers around empowering states to respond to massive hurricanes, and in particular, Hurricane Andrew, which caused nearly $25 billion in damages when it hit Florida and Louisiana in 1992…More recently, states used EMAC to work together during both Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.  All 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, participate in EMAC. With language mostly centering around natural disaster relief, the congressional joint resolution creating EMAC also notes it exists to help manage things like “community disorders, insurgency, or [an] enemy attack.” – DeSmogBlog, This Natural Disaster Assistance Law is Why Other States Are Policing Dakota Access Pipeline Protests

Wisconsin was one nearby state that sent officers from several departments. An EMAC Response After-Action Report created by the Wisconsin State Patrol (WSP), acquired by Melissa Hill through a records request made using, shows some details of their deployment.

The report states that Wisconsin provided a “mobile field force” of 17 state troopers, with additional personnel from the Dane, St. Croix, Marathon, and Rock County Sheriff’s Departments, in a detail lasting from October 9 until October 15, 2016. Two Wisconsin state troopers also served as a “Force Protection Team“, also called the “Less Lethal team“, on October 10 (Indigenous People’s Day/Columbus Day) when 27 people were arrested on or near a DAPL work site in Morton County, ND.

Among those arrested on October 10 was Rebecca Kemble, a Madison, Wisconsin alderwoman, who was present acting as a legal observer. Madison attorney Patricia Hammel, was also present in Morton County on October 10 but was not arrested. Hammel told the Wisconsin’s Isthmus what she observed after water protectors began their prayer ceremony at the pipeline site:

Within an hour, about 50 law enforcement officers arrived and came marching up the highway…I was amazed to see that most of them were from Wisconsin.” – Patricia Hammel, Attorney

Wisconsin state troopers in Morton County, North Dakota. Image credit: Isthmus
Wisconsin state troopers in Morton County, North Dakota. Image credit: Patricia Hammel Isthmus

The Wisconsin State Patrol’s After-Action Report from their North Dakota deployment also includes “Suggested Improvements for Future Deployments“, such as: using cell phones instead of radios, donning Kevlar vests and riot helmets, using drones for “gathering intelligence“, as well as increasing the training of officers for “cut teams” to disable lockbox devices used by protesters.

Read the Wisconsin State Patrol EMAC Response After-Action Report, acquired by Melissa Hill (@smilyus on twitter) below, or you can download the .PDF at the Muckrock request page.

Unicorn Riot acquired a copy of the EMAC agreement used to send law enforcement from Wisconsin to North Dakota through a records request to the Marathon County Sheriff, who deployed deputies to Morton County alongside other Wisconsin agencies,  The agreement is signed between Marathon County Sheriff Scott Parks and Brian Satula, administrator of Wisconsin’s Division of Emergency Management (WEM).

We also acquired a nearly identical EMAC agreement document that the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Department signed with WEM. These documents show that Wisconsin’s Division of Emergency Management coordinated with North Dakota’s Department of Emergency Services to send deputies from Dane, St. Croix, Marathon, and Rock counties to Morton County for DAPL operations.

The maximum cost to to be incurred by Marathon County and reimbursed by Morton County is listed as $48,000. The agreement also states that:

EMAC has been implemented to assist the State(s) or Province(s) of    Morton County, North Dakota    to respond to     pipeline protests    .” – pg. 5 Wisconsin EMAC Agreement

The “customary hours” under an EMAC agreement are listed as 12 hours which “may be in sub-standard conditions“, while the deputies would be compensated at the same rate as they would at home. The “Liability” section of the agreement states that:

Officers or employees of a member state or province, as well as officers of a local, municipal, county, state, and/or non-state entity rendering aid in another state or province pursuant to this Agreement shall be considered agents of the requesting state/province for tort liability and immunity purposes.” – pg. 7 Wisconsin EMAC Agreement

In the event any out-of-state law enforcement officers commit acts that lead to a lawsuit being filed, the out-of-state agency which provided the personnel in question would most likely be able to deflect the liability onto Morton County and North Dakota.

Officers who have been involved in policing #NoDAPL have not been wearing nameplates or badge numbers that could be used to identify them, making it harder for individual officers to be held accountable. The Wisconsin State Patrol’s After Action report makes it official that obfuscation and anonymization is an explicit strategy circulating in law enforcement circles, and not an oversight: “Remove the name tag from the Class uniform and replace it with a ‘call or badge’ number.

Read the EMAC Agreement documents below: EMAC Agreement 1 (PDF)


EMAC Agreement 2 (PDF)


An EMAC R-2 form from the St. Croix County Sheriffs office shows some of the expenses incurred by Morton County to repay for assistance from Wisconsin.



Unicorn Riot’s research continues into the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, and federally supported joint law enforcement programs such as FEMA’s Field Force Operations training doctrine, which we published November 16th. Please send similar documents to [email protected]. On November 1st we reported on large protests against the deployment of Hennepin County Sheriffs Office personnel from Minneapolis to DAPL, with the approval of the state’s emergency management authorities.

Unicorn Riot will continue to regularly provide direct updates about resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Follow our media on Twitter, Facebook, and our website for more information.

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Below is Unicorn Riot’s coverage of the [#NoDAPL] anti-Dakota Access Pipeline struggle from early summer 2016 to present:

March – May 2016

August 2016

September 2016

October 2016

November 2016