When the rent doubled in price for a deputy living in Makoti, Ward County Sheriff Steve Kukowski had the deputy come back to Minot to live.
The deputy now lives near Minot and drives back and forth between here and the Makoti area.
"It's a huge gas expense for me but I don't have any choice," Kukowski said.
Eloise Ogden/MDN • Ward County Sheriff Steve Kukowski is shown June 4 in his office in the Ward County Courthouse in Minot. Like other law enforcement agencies in the area, the Ward County Sheriff’s Department has increased demands for its work.
Lack of housing or the high price for housing, growing numbers of cases and other issues, and having enough staff are among the impacts the oil boom is having on the Ward County Sheriff's Office.
Kukowski spoke recently to members of the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce's Energy Committee.
He said he's told the city council in Kenmare the time will come if the rent gets so high there and if they want a deputy in that city, that the city will have to pick up part of the rent for the deputy.
More annual report stats
Following are more statistics from the Sheriff's Department's 2011 annual report.
- In 2011, the Investigations Division received incident reports that contained 1,019 criminal offenses. Of all the criminal offenses reported, 395 arrests were made. Incident reports are all reported crimes and/or any incidents that require a written report.
- In 2011, the Sheriff's Department received 1,756 new warrants for service. At the previous year's end, 301 of the warrants had been served. The Sheriff's Department receives all felony warrants from all law enforcement agencies within the county Research and service of warrants is the responsibility of the warrants officer within the Investigations Division.
- 2011 was an exceptional year for the Patrol Division with 9,266 calls for service, an increase of 2,021 calls over the previous year. That is an increase of nearly 22 percent. Because of the dramatic increase in activity and the number of calls for service during the previous year, the department was expanded to meet the increasing demands with one additional deputy hired and a request for three more deputies for the following year granted by the Ward County commissioners.
Traffic accidents remain the Patrol Division's most common calls for a patrol deputy, and there was an increase in traffic crashes and reports.
Besides traffic-related offenses including non-criminal traffic, DUI, DUS and no liability insurance, patrol deputies respond to a variety of other calls, some in which people have been consuming alcohol. Often traffic stops result in searches and arrests that yield illegal controlled substances or paraphernalia.
Domestic violence calls are among the Patrol Division's work and those calls are on the rise. 2011 was the third year in a row with domestic violence calls having a considerable increase.
- Ward County continues to be much less affected by foreclosures as compared to the rest of the country. Only eight foreclosure sales were conducted by the Civil Process Division in 2011.
The division received 5,665 pieces of civil process in 2010. In addition, the division received 924 subpoenas to serve. The division generated $67,275 in revenue from the service of process by year's end. The division collected delinquent property taxes on 163 mobile homes the fourth consecutive year that mobile home sales for delinquent property taxes were not necessary. The division also received 111 executions of judgments for collection.
- In 2011, the Ward County Jail booked 4,760 individuals on numerous different charges. Of that number, 3,649 were males and 1,049 females. (Sixty-two bookings were not designated as male or female.)
The jail has a 24/7 Sobriety Program averaging around 50 participants. When the report was completed, 17 alcohol monitoring bracelets were in use and more than 25 participants were taking part in twice daily breath testing and another nine on the drugs of abuse patch. The numbers constantly fluctuate with some participants graduating and others added to the program.
The number of prisoners' times the number of day incarcerated or man days increased from the previous year. The man days increased by 5,497 days. The number of prisoners coming in to be booked increased by 85.
So far that hasn't happened, Kukowski said. He said a female deputy is there. She bought a house and wants to live there. "It's good for me and good for them because they rely on a deputy to do a lot of the calls that they have," he said.
He said he's been attending numerous planning and city council meetings in Berthold. A builder is planning construction of 1,000 homes near that city. By the end of the year, he said, they want to have more than 200 homes built.
He said he's advised officials there that they need to have their own police department to handle matters and also need to annex the area into the city so it comes under city ordinances.
Minot and the area are changing with many people coming here to work in the oil field, but Kukowski said this is still a safe place for people to live.
But he cautioned that people do have to be careful and not let their guard down. "You have to be very vigilant about what you do and where you go. Keep your eyes open," he said.
He said car checking is one of the things that goes on here. He said two or three young people, probably high school age, will be dropped off at a street corner. One or two will take one side of the street and the others on the other side of the street. "If your car is in the driveway or on the street, they'll check out the door handles. They'll take your sunglasses, your cigarettes, your cell phone, CDs that sort of thing. So lock your doors," he advised.
A longtime law enforcement officer, Kukowski was elected Ward County Sheriff in November 2010. The first annual report since he took office covers 2011.
Kukowski told the Energy Committee group that he has started a new Weights and Measures Division of the Ward County Sheriff's Department. At the time of the meeting, in mid-May, the scales had just arrived, a vehicle was being outfitted and a person with a background in aerospace engineering had just been hired for the job.
He said the North Dakota Highway Patrol recently ran enforcement for them on the county roads for three weekends and each weekend collected $3,000 from truckers whose vehicles were overweight. "They are overweight on the county roads and damaging them," he said.
He said the sheriff's office, Highway Patrol and Minot Police Department in this community all work together and help each other. He said the Border Patrol helped a great deal during the flood last year.
He said there has been an increase in the sheriff's department's statistics.
"This last year we ran over 2,000 calls ahead of the year before. We were up 21 percent," Kukowski said. He said they're already ahead of that number of calls this year.
Staff has been added, and they've revitalized the reserve staff.
"We have 25 different officers that come from different walks of life," he said of the reserve staff. He said the reserve officers help with such things as the State Fair and keep an eye on inmates when the inmates are out working on projects. "They're a real vital asset to us. A lot of them are deputies that we lost when they went to the oil field and wanted back in the reserve staff. They have sworn status," he said.
Minot and the area is rapidly growing.
Kukowski said there are reports of Minot having 50,000 people now but it doesn't take into account the population at Swenson's RV on the southeast side of Minot and the Roughrider Campgrounds west of the city.
Citations in the county are up 500 percent, he said.
"You can sit at an intersection and write red light tickets practically all day," he said. He said an officer told him one guy who was stopped one evening said, "Can't you just give me a punch card? For 20 bucks, this ain't nothing. Where I come from that cost a lot of money. Just give me a punch card and every time you stop me, you can punch it."
"We have about 1,700 outstanding warrants at any given time. A lot of these people are very transient and they're hard to find," he said.
He said the crew camps that have been developed in the area probably are the best thing because everyone is in a central location and are accounted for. "The ones I really worry about are the two to three campers out on a farmstead," he said. He said people don't know their backgrounds. He said people with criminal records can't get into the crew camps.