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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Drug offenses, assault surge in oil patch counties

  • North Dakota saw sharp increases in the number of drug arrests and aggravated assaults last year, particularly in the booming oil patch, but the attorney general says data from the latest annual crime report show some positive trends.
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  • North Dakota saw sharp increases in the number of drug arrests and aggravated assaults last year, particularly in the booming oil patch, but the attorney general says data from the latest annual crime report show some positive trends.
     
    Violent crimes in North Dakota increased by more than 7 percent for the third consecutive year, according to the 2013 crime report released at a press conference by Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.
     
    Statewide, crime increased by 5.5 percent with almost 15,700 total offenses. Violent crimes increased by 7.4 percent and property crimes went up by 5.5 percent.
     
    While the number of homicides and rapes decreased in 2013, Stenehjem said aggravated assault and drug offenses in the state are still "areas of great concern."
     
    "They are increasingly complex. They tend to involve much more amounts of illegal drugs. Methamphetamine is coming in, not by the gram and the ounce anymore, but by the pound and is typically being transported and trafficked by individuals who almost without exception are heavily armed," he said.
     
    Arrests for drug offenses increased 19.5 percent from 2012. There were 813 drug offenses in 2013 in oil patch counties. There were only 115 in 2003.
     
    Aggravated assaults increased 8 percent overall, but jumped 23 percent in the 12 oil patch counties. The rest of the counties in the state saw only a 3 percent increase.
     
    More than half of the reported aggravated assaults in the state are domestic violence cases, Stenehjem said, adding that he considered getting more resources to abused women a "priority."
     
    "Those are issues that we need to make sure there are adequate resources so victims of domestic violence have a place to go, a place to get counseling and assistance," he said.
     
    The number of rape offenses dropped 2 percent from 243 to 237. In the oil patch, rape dropped 17 percent from 48 to 40.
     
    Homicides decreased from 20 in 2012, to 14 in 2013.
     
    Stenehjem said the rapidly increasing population could account for some of the crime increase in 2013. North Dakota added 23,000 new permanent citizens in last year, bringing its unofficial population to about 723,000. Stenehjem said it's estimated there are about 45,000 more living in the state in temporary housing.
     
    Like 2012, violent crimes in 2013 comprised about 10 percent of the overall crimes in North Dakota.
     
    "Nationally, that's a very good statistic," Stenehjem said.
     

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