North Dakota is on pace for more homicides this year than ever before.
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem released the comprehensive crime report for 2018.
The crime rate overall is level, but there WAS an increase in drug offenses and aggravated assaults.
2018 had 17 reported homicides.
The most ever was 22, back in 2015.
So far, in 2019, there have been 16 confirmed homicides — which includes the four people murdered at RJR maintenance and management, in Mandan.
“So far this year and this is something that is cause for some alarm, we’re at 16 and possibly 17 homicides in North Dakota already this year with just half the year gone by so 2019 is not likely to be a good year on the homicide front,” said North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.
12 of those homicides were due to domestic violence.
A positive from the state crime report is the dramatic decrease in DUI’s.
In fact – drunk driving convictions have been cut in half since 2012.
That year there were more than 8,300 DUI’s.
In 2018 there were a little over 4,300.
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem thinks the decrease has to do with tougher DUI laws passed during the 2011 legislative session.
Arrests involving drugs are also trending upward in the state.
There was a 7% increase in drug offenses from 2017 to 2018 and Stenehjem says the people who are bringing drugs into North Dakota are only bringing higher quantities and stronger drugs.
He also noted a concerning connection between drug use and other crime.
“A lot of the other crime that we see in North Dakota. The burglaries, the aggravated assaults, are a result of the drug activity in North Dakota. Either because the perpetrators are high on drugs. Or they are seeking money so they can purchase more drugs,” Stenehjem said.
The upward trend in drug arrest flows right alongside the increase in population.
Since 2010 the population increased by about 100,000 people and drug arrests more than doubled.
However – the attorney general does not necessarily connect this to the oil boom.
For example, of the 5,400 drug arrest in 2018, only 1,100 happened in oil-producing counties.