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Published September 27, 2013, 09:06 AM

Oil-impact grants awarded to North Dakota law enforcement

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's Land Board has awarded $8.8 million in grants to law enforcement agencies in western North Dakota's oil-producing region.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's Land Board has awarded $8.8 million in grants to law enforcement agencies in western North Dakota's oil-producing region.

The grants are part of a program aimed at helping communities deal with the effects of rapid energy development. The money awarded to the law enforcement agencies includes funding for 28 new positions, housing assistance, training, vehicles and other supplies.

The grants are administered by the state Land Board, which is headed by Gov. Jack Dalrymple. Other members are Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Secretary of State Al Jaeger, Treasurer Kelly Schmidt and Kirsten Baesler, the state superintendent of public instruction.

The Bismarck Tribune reports that the largest grant approved, $1.096 million, went to the McKenzie County Sheriff's Office, which was awarded housing allowance funds for nine officers. The county also received funding for equipment.

A grant of $1.063 million was awarded to the Williams County Sheriff's Office for 15 new vehicles and radio equipment.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said the funding recommendations came after meetings between law enforcement agencies and the Drug and Violent Crime Policy Board. He said that in the past board policy has been to not make providing one-time funding for staff a priority. With oil patch law enforcement needs reaching a critical stage, Stenehjem said it was time for a change.

"We can't take the position any longer," Stenehjem said. "We need to put cops in cars."

Gov. Jack Dalrymple agreed.

"I think we have to listen to the recommendations of the advisory group," Dalrymple said.

In addition to the officer positions approved, funds also were provided for additional victim advocates, assistant state's attorneys, administrative assistants and drug task force agents.

The board also decided to vote against several requests made in Morton and Burleigh counties, which are outside the state's oil patch.

Funding for a Mandan Police Department officer also was denied. The Burleigh County Sheriff's Department was denied funds for equipment as was the Morton County Detention Center.

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