ST. PAUL — Minnesota State Patrol and National Guard leaders on Wednesday, April 21, said that officers and soldiers will return home later this week following the conviction of former officer Derek Chauvin and a peaceful night of celebrations around the Twin Cities.
A Hennepin County jury on Tuesday, April 20, found Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter in connection to the May 25 killing of George Floyd. Bystander and bodycam footage of the incident showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for several minutes as Floyd asked him to stop.
Ahead of the trial, state and local law enforcement groups readied thousands of officers, soldiers and airmen to intervene in the event of rioting or looting in the Twin Cities. Widespread looting and arson fires took place in the region in late May and June following Floyd's death resulting in more than $500 million in damage.
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Chauvin's guilty verdict sparked celebrations Tuesday evening, and law enforcement officials who oversaw Operation Safety Net said they were preparing to scale down police presence in the area.
"The goals of Operation Safety Net were met, which were to ensure we didn't have massive property destruction and chaos in our streets," Assistant Department of Public Safety Commissioner Booker Hodges said. "And we have to thank for that our citizens of our great state and those who came here to express their First Amendment rights."
Fencing and other barriers around state, city and county buildings will also start to come down in the coming days, as the law enforcement operation moves to its next phase. Those barriers could return later this year as Chauvin returns to court for his sentencing hearing and other officers involved in Floyd's death have their day in court.
State Patrol Col. Matt Langer and National Guard Adjutant General Shawn Manke said their forces were demobilizing in a "strategic way" and thousands of officers, soldiers and other law enforcement staff would be returning home in the coming days after deploying to Minneapolis and St. Paul.
"We'll continue to ramp down and hopefully have all of our soldiers and airmen off this mission very shortly because, frankly, the need of the local law enforcement is no longer there," Manke said.
Roughly 120 Nebraska and Ohio officers who came into the state Monday to help with law enforcement response had returned to their states or were planning their return travel, Langer said.
The law enforcement leaders thanked the Twin Cities community and demonstrators for keeping the peace amid the trial and said they hoped to learn from their experience should future court proceedings or incidents require a similar response.
“We knew that Minnesota could do this here," Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said. "And you were a beacon of light to our country and across the globe."