BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) —The Attorney General’s office held a news conference Wednesday, announcing budget priorities for the next legislative session.

Attorney General Drew Wrigley openly admits that the new south Bismarck facility that will house various divisions of the AG’s office is insufficient and will need major overhauls.
One of the top priorities is expanding the State Crime Lab.

The AG’s office has been meeting with legislators from both parties, and sheriffs and police chiefs, across the state, to gather information on the needs for BCI and the State Crime lab.

“We are going to war to make sure our budget considerations are given full consideration and we’re going to be completely open and transparent with every legislator about what are the needs for this office. We are not asking for anything that we don’t feel is critical for the mission this office. And, we’re going to be very transparent and open about all of that,” said North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley.

Attorney General Wrigley also discussed the office’s new mission to better serve tribal reservations.

They want to locate BCI agents close to tribal reservations in order to partner with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and local law enforcement agencies.

Through a tribal resolution and a yearlong special designation process, BCI agents will have full authority to arrest and enforce laws on tribal lands.

So far they have started a pilot program on the Spirit Lake Reservation.

“Why we started up at Spirit Lake is because we have our Devils Lake BCI office there and the Lake Region Narcotics Task Force. So, it’s already established and only miles away, so it is kind of our pilot project there. All of the members assigned to that task force; from the police department, sheriff’s office, and BCI received that select designation,” explained Director of North Dakota’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation Lonnie Grabowska. “Every council member that I have met with as a collective group or individually has said one common is the amount of drugs on the reservation must stop, period,” Grabowska said.

Other budget items discussed Wednesday, among many others, include expanding the Medicaid fraud unit, additional IT personnel, and software updates.

Wrigley also said a major budgetary request will be higher salaries to help with personnel retention.