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National Guard presence during Chauvin trial cost $25M

By Brian Bakst, Minnesota Public Radio News

Expenses topped $25 million for the Minnesota National Guard’s deployment of thousands of its members around the Derek Chauvin murder trial, according to newly released invoices.

The Guard submitted its cost calculations in memos to the Minnesota Management and Budget department. Under state law, the Guard is automatically reimbursed when summoned into action and those dollars will come out of the general treasury.

Roughly 3,500 Guard members were brought into the Twin Cities at various stages of the Chauvin trial to watch over key buildings and be ready to respond if demonstrations devolved into something more severe. That represents one-quarter of the full Minnesota National Guard.

Ultimately, the Twin Cities experienced relatively little upheaval during the trial and after the Chauvin guilty verdict in the murder of George Floyd in May 2020.

There were tense moments in Brooklyn Center during protests into the recent police shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright.

Guard members are done with the mission and back to their regular lives. Some had to stay on slightly longer to repair and store equipment used during the assignment, a Guard official said.

The most significant expense — about $17 million — was for paying Guard members for the time they were on active duty and mileage costs to get them in place. But meals and lodging also added up to about $6.5 million.

Lesser amounts were spent on equipment, fuel and unspecified supplies.

On Tuesday, the Legislature approved and Gov. Tim Walz signed a separate $7.8 million bill to cover expenses of the Minnesota State Patrol, Department of Natural Resources and two states that sent in law enforcement personnel as part of Operation Safety Net.

The stepped-up presence was designed to avoid a repeat of the civil unrest that led to nights of violence, looting and destruction of businesses in Minneapolis and St. Paul after Floyd’s death that was caught on video sparked worldwide racial justice protests.

The executive order that Walz used to mobilize the Guard in recent months runs until the end of 2021 given the anticipated trials of three other former Minneapolis police officers on scene the night Floyd was killed. Those trials are set for August.

The Guard is also involved in several other missions around COVID-19, including help in testing and vaccination. Costs for those assignments have climbed into the millions, but much of that will be eligible for federal reimbursement.

When the Guard was pressed into emergency duty during last year’s civil unrest, it quickly sought reimbursement for $13 million in costs.