North Dakota Sheriff’s Departments are responsible for keeping an entire county safe. But it can be tough for a department like Burleigh County Sheriff’s to get away from the busy capital city and patrol rural areas.
KX News went along for the ride, as BCSD showed her their new plan to make sure the voices of even the smallest towns are heard.
A couple of months ago, the Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department split the county into six regions, and six deputies volunteered to get to know a new area. And most of these towns don’t have a police department.
Sheriff’s Deputy Colin Weigel shares, “I grew up in a small community, on the south side of the state. Growing up, law enforcement didn’t really interact with us all that much. And growing up, looking back on it now, I wish that was something that my local law enforcement would have done.”
We hopped in the squad car with Deputy Sheriff Weigel to learn more about the Rural Enforcement and Outreach Program.
He adds, “It’s a work in progress I guess. So it’s just starting. We’re making contacts and getting out into communities.”
We headed west to Sterling. The President of the volunteer fire department tells us it’s home to less than 100 people.
The President, Pat Heaton shares, “Well they’ve been attending our meetings, our monthly meetings and it’s good to visit with them once a month.”
Heaton says it’s hard for a fire department to respond to calls alone. He says having the Sheriff’s Department around will make their job much safer.
He adds, “To have them here to keep traffic off of you and see things that we don’t see. But for the rest of the town, any more presence should help with any kind of criminal, drugs, that kind of thing. Hopefully, it helps.”
It’s hard to know just yet, but reports from the Sheriff’s Department show, these deputies have already made progress.
Deputy Sheriff Jared Lemieux adds, “It’s new, unfortunately, to have somebody come out and represent the Sheriff’s Department, but since then, I’ve been getting phone calls ranging from suspicious activity or just general questions about how the Sheriff’s Department runs.”
Heaton explains, “It tends to keep people in line if you see one once in a while.”
But more than deterring crime, it’s about building relationships, so small communities know who to dial in a time of need.
Weigel explains, “In these rural areas, typically they only see us if they’re paying attention and see us driving by or if we’re on a traffic stop, so what this does is gets us out of our squad cars and interacting with these citizens in these rural communities.”
An essential boots-on-the-ground effort, that the Sheriff’s Department says will be here to stay.
If you live in Burleigh County and want to know the deputy patrolling your neck of the woods, here’s the break down:
Sgt. Braun and Deputy J. Lemieux – EAST (Wing, Driscoll, Sterling)
Deputy Weigel and Sgt. Carvell – NORTH (Wilton, Baldwin, Regen)
Deputy Wray and Deputy Custodio – SOUTHEAST (Menoken, Mckenzie, Moffit)