Sheriff who led response to Dakota Access protest re-elected

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MANDAN, N.D. (AP) - The county sheriff who led the law enforcement response to large-scale Dakota Access oil pipeline protests in North Dakota has been re-elected to another four-year term by a wide margin.

Kyle Kirchmeier got two-thirds of the votes cast in the Morton County sheriff's race on Tuesday to easily defeat challenger Dave Shipman.

Kirchmeier first sought the sheriff's position in 2014 after 29 years with the state Highway Patrol. In 2016 and 2017 he led the response to the pipeline protests that drew thousands of people and resulted in 761 arrests over a six-month span.

Law enforcement supporters credit him with keeping protesters in check.

Opponents allege the law enforcement response to the protests was too heavy-handed. Kirchmeier is one of the defendants in an ongoing federal lawsuit alleging excessive force.