The controversy surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) project and recent environmental protests at worksites has led to international attention and a growing concern for critical infrastructure owners and operators. Protests, contentious gatherings and violent mobs near infrastructure projects can thrust organizations into an unwanted media frenzy and potentially put employee safety and security at risk. As the state of public discourse around political ideology remains a flashpoint for demonstrations and dissent, thinking through security plans and corporate response is needed prior to a crisis.
In North Dakota, local law enforcement made 761 arrests in the region between early August 2016 and late February 2017. In his request for federal funding to recoup the $38 million in law enforcement costs needed to deal with the infrastructure protests, Governor Doug Burgum stated, “The DAPL protest is the first time the state of North Dakota has experienced civil unrest of this magnitude.” He added that the protest, “was of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local governments.”