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Law enforcement officials highlight safety plan for Chauvin trial

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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (KTTC) -- Wednesday, leaders from several government agencies highlighted plans for peace, safety and keeping protests constitutional surrounding the trial of Derek Chauvin.

The Minneapolis Police Department, Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, the Minnesota State Patrol and the Minnesota National Guard are among the many organizations pitching in to help keep calm in Minneapolis. Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington says he believes there will be enough police officers to help the National Guard with keeping the streets safe.

"We are not going to be caught flat footed," Harrington said.

The planning for this trial and safety coordination started back in July. Authorities highlighted four phases of police presence in the city. Currently, Phase One is underway with planning. Phase Two will begin when the trial starts on March 8 as police presence is heightened in the city.

State Patrol says Phase Three comes when arguments are heard. That's when we will see the full accompaniment of law enforcement on the streets.

"We're going to take a measured approach," said Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson. "We're going to adapt and respond to different areas with different resources on a minute or hourly basis."

Authorities say the plan is very comprehensive and while it will have multiple organizations working together to make sure any demonstrations or protests do not turn violent like we saw in May and June, they're confident it will work keep the peace around this contentious trial.

Law enforcement will be setting up a Joint Information Center (JIC) to help streamline communications. While planning, Harrington said the agencies looked at not only their own history but also at other cities that have dealt with high profile cases and what happened in those places.

"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, well we all know how that ends," Harrington said. "We are committed of part of the unified command to learn from history and not repeat it."

The message Tuesday also states there will be zero tolerance of rioting, looting and destruction this time around. The State Patrol also reiterated the highways will not be used for grounds to march.

However, officials stressed that this will be a balancing act of upholding the Constitution when it comes to assembly and having voices heard while keeping it lawful.

"We all want justice to be served. In order for that to happen everyone needs to respect the process," Hutchinson said.

Harrington said the effort also involves monitoring extremist groups' online activity to see if those groups intend to come to Minneapolis.

The trial on March 8 begins with jury selection. A verdict in the case isn't expected until mid to late April at the earliest.

Zach Fuller

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