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TJ Jerke, Forum News Service, Published July 22 2013

ND attorney general seeks $1.3 million in emergency Oil Patch law enforcement grants

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Attorney General’s Office will ask the state Board of University and School Lands for $1.3 million in emergency grants to put toward law enforcement efforts in the Oil Patch.

During a special meeting Monday, the Drug and Violent Crime Policy Board of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation approved funding recommendations for 11 projects in five counties and three towns. It will seek final approval for from the Land Board on Thursday.

The grants are part of the Criminal Justice Oil Impact funding used to help the state address crime-related issues due to the increase in population and oil producing activity.

Grants require a 25 percent cash match based on the total project costs.

The state Legislature gave the Land Board and attorney general a combined $16.6 million to administer grants to oil-impacted law enforcement departments.

For this round of grant applications, totaling over $1.3 million, more than $390,000 will go to five sheriff department’s and more than $978,000 will cover the remaining grants to police departments, as well as pay for the development of a manual on uniform police practices, as required by the Legislature.

The board’s chairman, Peter Welte, Grand Forks County state’s attorney, said the board was struck by the number of requested projects regarding officer safety.

“Officers are in need of the resources with the safety and staffing needs they are facing out west,” he said. “With the emergence of man camps, and overall population increase, you need the state government to step in and control the crime.”

Budget depleted

The Stark County Sheriff’s Office requested $185,000 for three new vehicles, equipment and overtime pay. The board will recommend $138,000 for everything but one vehicle.

Dean Franchuk, chief deputy captain of the Stark County Sheriff’s Office, said they had $50,000 to spend on overtime pay for the whole year and they have already paid out more than $61,000.

They requested $50,000 more to help cover overtime the rest of the year because the need for courtroom security has increased as well as transporting prisoners for mental health reasons and service calls that put officers working past their shifts.

“Anything will help. The overtime budget is depleting, equipment is depleting, gas has gone up,” Franchuk said. “A lot of our line items are being used up and we’re only halfway through the year.”

With 22 sworn officers, he said some need to share vehicles, making it hard to respond to service calls.

Other recommendations include:

E $180,000 for the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office for two new deputies, a squad car, a new radar for traffic on Highway 85 and overtime pay.

E $82,600 of a $430,000 request from the Arnegard Police Department, a newly established department. The recommendation includes funding for a fully equipped vehicle, Tasers, radar gun, office equipment, a gun locker and Breathalyzers.

E $44,000 for the New Town Police Department for two new vehicles and overtime pay.

E $101,000 for the Belfield Police Department for portable radios, two vehicles, a police dog and vehicle radios.