Updated: March 02, 2021 06:41 AM
Created: March 01, 2021 09:45 PM
It's been months in the making, and now it's days away from being put to the test.
With the goal of ensuring public safety and protecting businesses in the Twin Cities as former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin has his time in court, "Operation Safety Net" (OSN) consists of law enforcement and public health agencies from across the state.
Another main goal of OSN is to protecting everyone's constitutional rights by giving them a safe environment to demonstrate and protest.
The agencies that are part of the unit include:
"We want peaceful protest," Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said.
"We want to make sure that people are supported [and] we're ensuring their first amendment rights, but we have seen sadly last year, and across this nation of ours, that you will at times get individuals who will want to hijack that moment and make it something more criminal and destructive," Arradondo added.
Physical steps have been taken to try and prevent potential destruction. Concrete barriers, chain link fencing and barbed wire surround the Hennepin County Government Center.
OSN has also taken steps virtually. DPS Commissioner John Harrington said intel has already been gathered on social media. Harrington said communication with groups 'that have been here before,' created enough concern for them to create OSN.
They're not alone in the effort to keep the peace. Harrington mentioned specific tips from the public during the summer's unrest led them to gas cans that were hidden in backyards and helped give prosecutors the ability to charge around a dozen people with arson.
Arradondo says time is also on their side. The months leading up to the trial has not only given them an opportunity to prepare field operations but also connect with community leaders and activists so they have a better idea of who will be demonstrating. And in turn giving them a better idea of who will be out for the wrong reasons.
Chauvin is charged with manslaughter and second-degree murder in the death of George Floyd in May 2020.
Jury selection for the trial is expected to start on March 8. OSN expects their most critical time will be during the final arguments and deliberation, which is expected to happen in April.
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