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Associated Press, Published August 01 2013

Purdon: New ATF director a ‘big plus’ for Dakotas

BISMARCK – The U.S. attorney from North Dakota said the new director of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives should help the state partly because of his familiarity with the area.

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Todd Jones as head of ATF. Jones had been working double duty as acting ATF director and U.S. attorney for Minnesota.

The neighboring U.S. attorney, Timothy Purdon of North Dakota, said he has worked closely with Jones over the past three years and calls him a “dedicated public servant and a great leader.”

Purdon said ATF is an important partner in the effort to combat organized drug trafficking gangs in the Oil Patch and violent crime on American Indian reservations.

A report issued earlier this week showed that North Dakota’s per capita crime rate jumped 7.9 percent last year, with decade-high increases in the number of rapes and robberies and large jumps in drug and drunken-driving arrests.

“Having a confirmed director at ATF who understands these issues will be a big plus,” Purdon said.

Purdon was among 81 U.S. attorneys who signed a letter to Senate leaders promoting Jones for the job.

Jones was eventually approved after a long day in the Senate. The group waited several hours for North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp to return from her home state and cast the 60th vote needed to end a GOP procedural blockade aimed at derailing the nomination.

Purdon said the confirmation capped a grueling two years for Jones, who shuffled between Washington and Minneapolis.

“When Todd graduated from law school, he did not join a big firm, he joined the Marines Corps,” Purdon said. “That’s who he is. Duty first and get the job done.”