Crime rate continues to alarm

Many might have thought that with the slowdown in the Bakken, the reduction in growth rate in our region and at least the perception of fewer transients that the result would be a slip in the crime rate.

That hasn’t happened. Instead City of Minot Police and the Ward County Sheriff’s Department cite a reduction in the rate of increase, which is not encouraging. Furthermore there have been notable increases in violent crime, drug crime, prostitution and human trafficking.

A singular reason is elusive. There are fewer out-of-state oil field workers than there were in the region and the sector doesn’t appear to be in a boom to attract droves.

Drugs are certainly a culprit. Our region continues to be awash in illegal narcotics, particularly the very worst types. Check the backstory in countless property crimes, violent crimes and domestic disputes and you will find drugs at the core of the problem. An argument could be made that drug use is the common denominator of most crimes in the region.

Ironically, economic changes either direction could influence the crime rate. A poor economy is often linked to a increase in crime. Meanwhile, an economic boom buoyed by the Bakken would attract more transient workers, swell the population and prompt an increase in crime.

Addressing core issues, such as drug abuse, rationalizing our criminal justice system and fostering economic opportunities remain the only long-term possible solutions.