The native Crosby leads a special team during the riots in the state

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Dwyer left his post as Captain of the Minnesota State Patrol Brainerd District in October 2019 to participate in a special project for the State Patrol. What Dwyer didn’t know at the time was that the special project events in 2020 would be intense and dangerous, which resulted in the Crosby native working in civil unrest environments across the state and country, at times, for more than a year.

Dwyer, 47, was promoted to major, succeeding Maj. Matt Sokol, who retired June 2 after serving 27 years with the Minnesota State Patrol. He said it was with mixed feelings when he sold the family home and left the Crosby area – a place he called home all his life – to move to the Twin Cities metropolitan area for the office the St. Paul State Patrol to work.

Dwyer’s special assignment began with Super Bowl LII in 2018 when the game was played at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Dwyer was the commander of the Mobile Response Team at the time, assisting the Minneapolis Police in crowd control and civil unrest during the 52nd Super Bowl. He then moved on to the second assignment with the same type of work for the NCAA Final Four in 2019.


– Maj. Joseph Dwyer, Minnesota State Patrol

Dwyer – who was also doing his captaincy duties at the time – said both duties were successful and were a joint effort by law enforcement agencies across the state to make sure everything went smoothly.

After the two major sporting events were completed, Dwyer left his captaincy permanently in preparation for the start of a major replacement project for utilities in the state – the Enbridge Line 3 replacement project. The new Line 3 will travel more than 1,000 miles and average 760,000 barrels Transporting oil per day from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin, where a terminal is located. 337 miles of pipeline will be installed in Minnesota. The replacement project was controversial as opponents of the pipeline protested the installation across the state. People resisted chaining themselves to heavy equipment or blocking roads and entrances to construction sites to stop work.

Dwyer was part of the Northern Lights Task Force, a collaborative law enforcement agency that oversaw the police response to the Enbridge protests. As the state prepared for unrest surrounding the pipeline project, the events surrounding the May 25, 2020 assassination of George Floyd, led to global protests against police brutality, racism and a lack of police accountability. Rioters stormed Minneapolis, damaging many shops and burning down the Minneapolis Third District building.


East Central Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths Regional Coordinator Tom Nixon (left) and Minnesota State Patrol Capt.  Joe Dwyer will face the Crow Wing County Board of Commissioners Tuesday, March 26th, to discuss local efforts to prevent serious traffic injuries or fatalities.  Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

East Central Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths Regional Coordinator Tom Nixon (left) and Minnesota State Patrol Capt. Joe Dwyer will face the Crow Wing County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday March 26th to discuss local efforts to prevent serious traffic injuries or fatalities. Frank Lee / Brainerd Shipping

“This has been a very challenging time for many agencies and (the state patrol) was no exception,” Dwyer said. “This was unlike any other event in this age or era that Minnesota law enforcement had faced. It is really just an unprecedented event that we have navigated. “

Dwyer said in May and June 2020 that during the riots, the state patrol activated the mobile response team, which consists of 100 state troopers from across the state stationed in different parts of Minneapolis, “to deal with very excited, violent seditious groups To engage people for a 13-day assignment ”. . “

Dwyer said he probably should have been concerned about his safety during the riot, but he wasn’t because, as a leader, he was more focused on the safety of the people under his supervision. Dwyer said the things he directed the mobilization team with the state patrol were difficult to put into words. He said one evening the team had to patrol a city street in the dark behind a high-rise building, which was dangerous as the area had a high potential for attack. The team was patrolling the streets when buildings and vehicles were on fire, and they tried to surround rioters to prevent further criminal behavior.

“We would ask the team to go to the fire and put it out with whatever resources we had as there were few extinguishers,” Dwyer said. “The fires were not completely extinguished and we asked our soldiers to go through and go to the nearest fire where they were hit by an unattended vehicle. They did all of this and still tried to catch the people. “

Dwyer said the mobilization team had conducted a lot of containment and crowd management training that helped prepare the team for the 2020 events. Dwyer said the biggest lesson he has learned over the past year is always to stick to the original plan. He said that sometimes you thought of leaving the plan in the essence of time, but in the end it was most effective to stick to the plan.

Dwyer was one of four commanders responsible for the special duties. At first, Dwyer thought these were too many in charge, but said that fortunately they had four commanders as it was necessary to deal with all events following the death of George Floyd. Dwyer said last summer he spent every weekend in the state Capitol keeping security for any demonstrations that took place involving conflicting groups.

“We wholeheartedly believe in upholding the Constitution and making sure people’s voices are heard and balancing that with public safety,” said Dwyer.

Dwyer said the unprecedented events of the past year – including the backlash against law enforcement – had challenged him both professionally and personally.

“It burdens a person,” said Dwyer. “It’s important to have a strong peer group that you can rely on to deal with the various events and then have the strength of support on the home front because … you bring a lot with you one has to face at work through the door at home. You are still trying to deal with these feelings and everything that happened in that single day, but that is the nature of law enforcement. Whether you’re experiencing a terrible crash or a specific phone call you’re on, these periods of turmoil tend to take a lot of them home with you. It helps to have this support group and to have opportunities to deal with this in a healthy way. “

Dwyer believes that the majority of the public supports law enforcement.

“I think, by and large, that society, the mass of the public, supports law enforcement,” Dwyer said. “It’s obvious when we go to a gas station or eat somewhere or whenever we’re in uniform, it’s not uncommon … that people are grateful for our work. But I also know it is just a difficult time and there is a section of the population who does not support law enforcement and deals with a lot of problems. “

Looking back on the past year of special assignments, Dwyer said he was fortunate enough to be part of those opportunities throughout his career. Dwyer said he was able to contribute not just to the good of the Minnesota State Patrol, but to the state as a whole. Dwyer said he took pride in being neutral no matter the project. He said it is important that people are heard and their constitutional rights are respected while protecting public safety.

“We often find ourselves really bad in the middle of it all,” said Dwyer.

Dwyer remains humble when he talks about his next career move since he was promoted to major. He will oversee the southern region of the state, which includes the Rochester state patrol counties (District 2100); Mankato, (District 2200); Marshall (District 2300) and St. Cloud (2600); as well as the Commercial Vehicles Section and Investigative Special Services, which include crash reconstruction, K-9, vehicle crime, and unmanned aerial vehicles (drones).

The State Patrol has 11 districts in the state and is headed by State Patrol Chief Col. Matthew Langer. Each district office is headed by a captain and consists of soldiers and investigators, as well as communications and support personnel to assist with the patrol missions.

Dwyer looks forward to working with all the section commanders at various levels to find more ways to make the highways safer for the people.


Minnesota State Patrol Capt.  Joe Dwyer (left) and East Central Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths Regional Coordinator Tom Nixon give a presentation on local efforts to prevent serious traffic injuries or fatalities at the Crow Wing County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, March 26th.  Frank Lee / Brainerd Shipping

Minnesota State Patrol Capt. Joe Dwyer (left) and East Central Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths Regional Coordinator Tom Nixon give a presentation on local efforts to prevent serious traffic injuries or fatalities at the Crow Wing County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, March 26th. Frank Lee / Brainerd Shipping

Dwyer began his career in the police force in April 1996 with a part-time job with the Deerwood Police Department. Eight months later, he was offered a full-time position with the Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office. Dwyer, then 23, worked in the Drug Screening Division, then called the NET VI Drug Task Force. He worked undercover in high schools and bought drugs from students.

In May 1997 a position was opened with the State Patrol. It was an offer Dwyer couldn’t refuse. Dwyer went through a rigorous 16-week “military stress academy” before going into the field. He started out as a road trooper in downtown Minneapolis and patrolled the freeways and interstates in the Twin Cities metropolitan area for 18 months. Dwyer then moved to Aitkin County Station, where he stayed for 11 years.

Dwyer took on special assignments on the state patrol and worked in training and development with the Trooper Academy at Camp Ripley. Dwyer served as a staff officer in 2005, as a senior staff officer, in 2007 as a senior staff officer, and in 2009 as a staff sergeant at the Trooper Candidate School; and then served as an Academy Sergeant / Coordinator for the State Patrol Training Academy in 2011.

In 2009, Dwyer moved to the State Patrol’s Brainerd District Station and was promoted to captain in October 2016.

JENNIFER KRAUS can be reached at [email protected] or 218-855-5851. Follow me www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl on twitter.



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