BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — The number of major violent crimes in Minot and Bismarck has climbed over the last two to three years in both Bismarck and Minot. However, other cities and towns throughout North Dakota have reported that their crime rate is on a steady decline.

Bismarck Police Chief Jason Stugelmeyer states that in 2022, officers responded to a total of six murders and that this statistic has been reduced to two in 2023. However, as the department reports, the average number of other crimes has increased in the capital city — and many of these criminal actions are often connected. This has transformed into a pattern that is raising red flags for many officers.

“I think people aren’t being held accountable for their actions a lot more lately,” stated BPD Deputy Chief Jason Stugelmeyer. “We have had increases in violent crime over the years in the city of Bismarck, and most of those crimes are related, meaning that the suspect and the victim know each other. Somebody committing a crime against someone they don’t know does happen, but it’s becoming more rare: it’s usually acquaintances, domestic relations, or friends that aren’t friends anymore.”

These lower levels of shootings are also reflected in Minot’s own statistics. While shootings in the city quadrupled from three in 2019 to 12 in 2020, this year, Minot has only seen seven. However, there are plenty of ways that the department is working to crack down on gun violence and ensure citizens reduce the risk of crime in their area.

“We’re really pushing what we call a focus enforcement to help out our patrol,” said Minot PD Patrol Lieutenant Shawn Wegner, “where we identify where our problem areas are. We try to send our focus enforcement personnel out there to handle those things and their whole job is to be proactive and really go after them.”

However, as much as police officers can do, it’s important to remember that they cannot be everywhere at once — meaning that civilians must still take care when out and about.

“The main thing that we try to tell people is to be aware of your surroundings,” said Wegner. “Be aware of who you’re with. Really be conscious of what you’re doing, and really try to avoid anything that’s going to put you in harm’s way. As a police force, we’re trying to do everything we can but we are limited in our numbers. Minot isn’t a real big city, but it is spread out — there’s a lot going on here, and there is only so much we can do and so many places we can be, so you have to be at the forefront of that. Try to protect yourself, and we will try to do our job as well.

In total, the Bismarck Police Department reports that this year, they have responded to 29 robberies compared to 25 in the previous year, and 123 cases of aggravated assault compared to 142 in 2022.