Amid rise in crime, FBI to set up field office in North Dakota's Bakken oil region


The jail cells in North Dakota are overflowing.

“We never envisioned that this jail would be full,” Williams County Sheriff Scott Bushing told the Williston Herald. “But who could of planned for this?”

The "this" that nobody envisioned is the state's oil boom – a billion-dollar industry with high-paying careers that has turned sleepy towns such as Williston into small cities that are now bursting at the seams with new bodies (and their cash-filled bank accounts).

But more people has, of course, meant more crime – sex trafficking, drug use and sales, and more. And not enough law enforcement personnel or training to deal with it.

In response, the FBI will soon be opening a permanent field office in North Dakota's oil-rich Bakken region, The Associated Press reports.

The office will be based in Williston, Sen. John Hoeven said in a press release, which will be "vital not only for addressing crime, but also for maintaining our quality of life.”

Hoeven and fellow Sen. Heidi Heitkamp have been pushing for the office since last winter, Heitkamp said in a release. The office – which will be the fifth in the state – will eventually have four federal agents and two support staff.

"While the boom has delivered undeniably great economic benefits throughout North Dakota ... it has also resulted in new law enforcement and social challenges our communities have never seen before," Heitkamp said.

A timetable for its official opening has not been announced.

North Dakota's population has shot up from about 658,000 in July 2008, to 723,000 just five years later – an increase of about 10 percent.

A report released this summer showed overall crime was up in the state, particularly in the Bakken oil field areas.

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