Last month, we told you about the city of Garrison’s decision to end its contract with the McLean County Sheriff’s Department. Now, after years of a low police presence, a town on the Fort Berthold Reservation is taking advantage of the opening.
In past years, the town of White Shield has had its share of trouble keeping law enforcement officers in the area.
“The MHA law enforcement is heavily staffed. A lot of activities over in Mandaree, New Town, 4 Bears, and also at the casino. So it takes law enforcement to the west side, and we don’t always have that presence,” said Councilman Fred Fox, White Shield East Segment.
Fox said housing is another obstacle to getting people to White Shield.
He added, “Having housing for law enforcement and other professionals here is a big factor and a big hurdle.”
At the start of 2020, the city of Garrison re-established a city police department and ended its contract with the sheriff’s department. That, Fox said, gave White Shield an opportunity.
“I think it does bring a feeling of safeness to our community. A feeling of it is being protected,” said Fox.
The McLean County Sheriff’s Department has always had a presence in towns like Garrison and White Shield, but with this new contract, that presence will be heavier.
“Rather than being reactionary to calls, we have someone in the area 24/7,” said J.R. Kerzmann, Sheriff of McLean County.
Sheriff Kerzmann said his department has always had a good working relationship with MHA Drug Enforcement and Tribal Police, and this new contract will only enhance that.
He added, “A lot of good things to come, with the narcotics. When we run the K-9’s out here, it hand in hand with the tribal police, the drug enforcement. That high visibility usually pushes people to different locations.”
Sheriff Kerzmann said the contract with McLean County should go a long way in lowering the crime rate in White Shield. There are 18 officers who patrol McLean County.
No one officer will be assigned to the White Shield area but per the contract, the area will be covered for 19 hours a day.