Thanks to appropriations from the North Dakota legislature, there's money to address a backlog of issues brewing in oil country. This week, law enforcement agencies from across the state make their pitch for a piece of the pie.
"The need is great, I mean, we desperately are just scrambling to help these people," says Darla Juma, Director, Domestic Violence Program, Northwest North Dakota.
Thankfully, so is the cash.
North Dakota's legislature saw to that -- making $16.6 million available for law enforcement to oil impacted regions. "Our hope and desire of this is that it's going to get these counties up to speed with regards to the law enforcement needs of their counties, because it's been such a boom out there, they haven't been able to keep up," says Peter Welte, State's Attorney, Grand Forks County. Now, the Drug and Violent Crime Board has the task of divvying up that pot of money.
Witnessing all the boom's backlash -- and very little benefit -- one County, in particular, is hoping for the best. "Our budget only goes so far, and with the impact that we have from all the oil traffic -- we don't have any oil wells in Ward County -- so what happens is we receive very little revenue. So it has to come from the taxpayers," says Steve Kukowski, Ward County Sheriff.
The County is asking for dash cams, computer equipment, and assistance with housing, which they say will help "oh very much, very much. We're helping the other counties that don't have the jail space. Our jails are running at full capacity," notes Kukowski.
"Overwhelmed" is how some describe it, including domestic violence services. "I would say in the last four to five years, we've increased say, 70 percent," says Juma. So they're looking for "more help, more positions."
And North Dakota is in a position to deliver -- and then some.
In fact, even if all 60 applications are funded, four million dollars will be left over. "So there will need to be another round of awards," says Welte.
Oil impact funding decisions for these 60 applications are set to be made September 26th.
Round two is expected to get underway this winter.
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