Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Crime boom follows oil, gas boom in Northern Plains

"Booming oil production across a wide expanse of the Northern Plains is forcing law enforcement from the U.S. and Canada to gird for a spike in crimes ranging from drug trafficking and gun offenses to prostitution," Matthew Brown of Bloomberg Businessweek reports. Officials are preparing for an estimated 30,000 new workers to come to the Bakken Shale oil field (right) in Montana, North Dakota and Saskatchewan in the next few years. The region is emerging as one of the top oil producing areas in North America.

In the wake of the murder of Sidney, Mont., teacher Sherry Arnold, federal prosecutors are hosting a retreat Monday and Tuesday for law enforcement to create a strategy to deal with rising crime in the region. Assaults, traffic offenses and other crimes are rising with the increase in drilling in rural communities like Sidney and Williston, N.D., Brown reports. The situation is exacerbated by a housing shortage which made "man-camps" necessary to house hundreds of migrant workers from other states.

Industry representatives say they try to hire workers who "won't cause any trouble." North Dakota Petroleum Council spokeswoman Kari Cutting said drug tests and background checks are standard at most companies, adding that lack of housing can "deter would-be workers who show up without a position already secured." (Read more)

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