BISMARCK - According to information received from the Office of the North Dakota Attorney General, the Land Board on Thursday awarded $8.8 million in grants to local law enforcement agencies and criminal justice entities in counties impacted by oil and gas development.
"These grants include money to put more officers on the streets and highways, help for criminal prosecution and equipment to enhance law enforcement and public safety," said Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem in a prepared release. "These grants are important to assist the sheriffs and police departments to meet the challenges that come with rapid growth."
Local agencies receiving grant money includes the Ward County State's Attorneys Office, Ward County Sheriff's Department, Minot Police Department and Burlington Police. Ward County is classified as an "oil producing" county, meaning county agencies receiving funds must meet a 10 percent match requirement.
The Ward County State's Attorney applied for $294,656 and received $243,743. The money was requested to fund three positions within the office - a victim witness coordinator, assistant state's attorney and a legal office assistant.
Ward County Sheriff Steve Kukowski sits on the state's Drug and Violent Crime Policy Board, the board that screened requests for grant money and forwarded recommendations to the Land Board.
"There was two sets of money," explained Kukowski. "One set to impacted counties and the other to all law enforcement."
The Ward County Sheriff's Office was awarded $97,139, slightly less than their original request but enough to meet an important need according to Kukowski.
"We have to come up with a 10 percent match and then we'll have in-car cameras for 20 patrol units," said Kukowski.
The Minot Police Department was awarded all the dollars they requested, $189,501. The money is designated for three fully equipped interceptor patrol cars, a fully equipped transport van and overtime pay for an 18 month period beginning Nov. 1, 2013.
Burlington Police received funding of $68,992 to cover the cost of two patrol vehicles, in-car computers, tasers, vehicle spikes, an evidence safe and other items.
An additional round of grants is expected to be awarded later this year for nearly $6 million.
"We intend to re-apply," said Kukowski. "One item we need is a live scan fingerprint machine for the jail. Also we'll ask for a transport person."