Certain crimes down in 2013 for North Dakota
By Nick Smith
While statewide crime increased in 2013, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said the crime numbers for the year contained some positives: fewer rapes and murders.
Statewide crime in North Dakota increased by 5.5 percent in 2013 compared to 2012, according to the Uniform Crime Report released Tuesday.
“Last year … I had to confess there was no good news,” Stenehjem said. “This year … there is some good news.”
Total reported crimes statewide in 2013 numbered 15,685 in the seven categories indexed. That was up from 14,866 in 2012.
Four of the categories are classified as violent crimes: murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. The remaining three are classified as property crimes: burglary, theft and motor vehicle theft.
For 2013, there were 14 murders in North Dakota, down from 20 in 2012. Rapes were down slightly, to 237 in 2013 from 243 in 2012 — a 2.5 percent decline.
Stenehjem said his major concerns were spikes in aggravated assaults and drug arrests.
There were 1,156 aggravated assaults for 2013, a 7.9 percent increase from the 1,071 reported in 2012. Drug arrests were up 19.5 percent in 2013 to 3,431, up from 2,872.
Stenehjem provided data breaking out the crime statistics from the 12 western oil patch counties.
Most of the rise in aggravated assaults occurred in the oil patch. There were 346 aggravated assaults in those counties in 2013, up from 282 in 2012. For the rest of the state there were 810, up from 789 in 2012.
Drug offense numbers aren’t required in the federal report but are tracked by the state.
Drug arrests in the oil patch jumped from 581 in 2012 to 813 in 2013. For the rest of the state, the increase was from 2,291 in 2012 to 2,618 in 2013.
Those classified as oil patch counties are Billings, Burke, Divide, Dunn, Golden Valley, McKenzie, McLean, Mercer, Mountrail, Stark, Ward and Williams.
Stenehjem said the number of drug arrests and the rising volume of drugs are alarming.
“They’re increasingly complex (cases),” Stenehjem said. “Meth is not coming in by the gram or ounce anymore … but by the pound.”
Drunken driving arrests also make up a category tracked by the state. The 2013 total was 7,086, down from 7,322 in 2012 — a reduction of 3.2 percent.
Lawmakers passed more stringent DUI penalties during the 2013 session. Stenehjem said it’s still too early to know the impact of the law but he expects to see a decrease in DUI arrests over time.
Violent crimes reported overall in the state increased by 7.4 percent in 2013 to 1,558 reports, up from 1,451 in 2012.
Violent crimes consisted of 9.9 percent of total crimes reported in the state.
“Nationally that’s a very good statistic,” Stenehjem said.
To address the rise in crime, Stenehjem said, requests for additional money and staff will be included in his agency’s 2015-17 budget. He said he plans to seek more Bureau of Criminal Investigation agents in Williston, Dickinson and Watford City.
He also plans on requesting $20 million in oil impact grant funds for law enforcement agencies out west, up from $16.6 million approved for the current biennium.
Kiara Kraus-Parr, the Democratic-NPL Party candidate for attorney general, weighed in on the report in a statement Tuesday.
“Today’s crime report must alarm North Dakotans who value the things that make this state a great place to live and raise a family. Out-of-control violent crime and drug trafficking are eroding the foundations (of) our communities,” she said.
Kraus-Parr referred to the crime stats as evidence Stenehjem is ineffective in the office.
The full report can be found online at www.ag.nd.gov.