MINOT, N.D. (AP) — Law enforcement agencies in Minot say they are struggling to combat crime even after the slowdown in area oil activity.
Minot Police Chief Jason Olsen said law enforcement agencies remain “strained and stressed” fighting violent crime, drug crime, prostitution and human trafficking, the Minot Daily News reported. Olsen said these areas of criminal activity have all increased at a rate greater than the population growth.
The Minot Police Department and Ward County Sheriff’s Office reported that calls to their offices and crime statistics have continued to rise, including through this year.
Olsen said rates for murder, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft from 2010 to 2016 were nearly double the rates from 2003 to 2009.
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Over the past seven years, his department has made more than 100 arrests for prostitution and human trafficking.
“These are very time-consuming investigations,” Olsen said. “We could have made a lot more arrests if we dedicated more time to it.”
Olsen said area law agencies are seeing an influx of a criminal element from Bakersfield, the oil capital of California. The area’s crime database shows 250 individuals from Bakersfield.
The Minot Police Department has expanded its force from 65 to 81 officers. Turnover has forced the department to hire 79 new officers since 2010, which creates a less experienced police force.
“We have more openings than we have applicants,” Olson said.
Ward County recently finished an addition to the jail that will increase capacity from 103 beds to 289 beds. It will open later this month.
Ward County Sheriff Bob Barnard said his department is considering more electronic monitoring and other lockdown treatment programs to reduce the number of inmates. He said inmate medical costs are creating a burden for the county.
Information from: Minot Daily News, http://www.minotdailynews.com