MORTON COUNTY, N.D. (KVLY) -- Police officers and sheriff's deputies, along with National Guard members from across the area, have been out west since August to help with the Dakota Access Pipeline Protest.
"This was probably the biggest law enforcement issue that hit North Dakota and it literally was not only a statewide effort, but we had nine states here helping us," said Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney. "That tells you how big this was.”
It meant many families dealt with a loved one being gone. Law enforcement say the protesters used scare tactics against them and their families.
"It was nasty, here for a while," explained Laney. "It was scary nasty. The way the violent element would escalate."
Sheriff Laney says there at plenty of peaceful protesters but also some that have alternative motives.
“The misinformation and lies that would come out from that certain segment is horrible," stated Laney.
He said some protesters would publish the home addresses of law enforcement and encourage people to take care of business that way.
“The fear that was put into our families, our spouse and children that are now home alone because mom or dad are away over here. And to find out your address has been published and their encouraging people to go take care of business," said Laney. "They won’t focus on that if they have to worry about their homes. That is terrorizing and a lot of that happened. It happened to me and to my people.”
Laney says it’s happened to him several times and most recently on Sunday.
There were tweets were posted saying, “this is what I think of your bull****," and his home address along with date of birth posted.
Laney says social media has played a whole new role with messages being put out there.
“There is groups out there that would like to do harm to law enforcement or their family, vandalize their property or follow them home and it has been extremely stressful on all our officers,” said North Dakota Highway Patrol Lt. Tom Iverson.
“You have the mental stress of here and the mental stress of worrying about your family. There are some pretty nasty things published about what they were going to do to us and your standing on a hill, 'Hey, were coming soon and you’re going to die tomorrow,' I heard that many times,” said Laney.
Laney and other law enforcement say despite the terrorizing, they still have a job to do.
“There is a mental game," Laney admitted. "But at the same time too, we take that oath. That oath is something we live our life by.”
Laney along with others says it’s hard to believe this type of thing is happening in North Dakota.
“We’re standing strong protecting the rights of the protesters that are doing it right and standing up against the ones that are doing it wrong," explained Laney. "We’re tired, yes! Want to go home to our families, yes! Proud, absolutely!”
Laney says he ordered his deputies to not wear their name tags, because they were being targeted. He adds that eventually they will be sending some people home, but still will have to have some out at the protest.
As for the protest ending, Stand Rock Tribal chairman Dave Archambault said after the winter storm passes, it's time to close up the camp.
"We deeply appreciate all the people who supported us with their presence, but when this storm passes, it is time to dismantle the camp and return to our homes," said Archambault. "If the camp stays where it is currently located, people are risking their lives. The current weather is severe, making travel impossible. If the camp stays, we run a risk of further provocation from local law enforcement. Once one person is hurt or property is destroyed, that will lead to more out-sized actions by law enforcement. The longer the camp stays, the greater risk we run of seeing further violence at the hands of law enforcement and potential injury to our supporters."