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Published April 12, 2013, 08:58 AM

Williston to get 3 more police officers

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — The police chief in the bustling North Dakota oil patch hub of Williston asked city commissioners for approval to hire one additional officer, and instead they allowed him to hire three.

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — The police chief in the bustling North Dakota oil patch hub of Williston asked city commissioners for approval to hire one additional officer, and instead they allowed him to hire three.

Chief Jim Lokken, who had three new officers budgeted for July, asked the commission this week for approval to hire one of them earlier than planned, because a former officer wanted to return after leaving a few months ago to work as a state trooper. Mayor Ward Koeser asked Lokken if he would like to have the other two positions come on early as well.

"People want to be safe and there's a perception, probably rightfully so, that if you have more police officers out there you're going to be safer," Koeser said.

The commission gave the go-ahead after Lokken said "it'd be nice" to have more help, according to the Williston Herald.

At a time when budget woes have forced many cities nationwide to cut police officers, Williston is expanding its force because of an influx of people from around the country in search of jobs in the booming oil fields. City officials also decided late last year to annex about 7 ½ square miles of land and expand the city limits.

"With the annexation and the amount of activity we've had the last couple months, we're going to need those officers," Lokken said.

The number of officers in the Williston Police Department has nearly doubled in the past few years, from 22 to 38. The department also has added two dispatchers, a code compliance officer and a data entry secretary.

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