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ND crime rate down; DUI arrests drop

Dave Thompson
Prairie Public

North Dakota’s crime rate dropped slightly in 2019, compared with 2018.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said notable among those is a reduction in DUI arrests, as well as a drop in drug arrests.

"I can tell you, our narcotics task force is working as hard as they ever have," Stenehjem told reporters.

But Stenehjem said there is one disturbing trend in drug arrests – meth arrests are up. He said it used to be that meth was homemade, and the Legislature passed laws to make it harder for those labs to be set up. Instead, he said meth is being brought to the state through organized crime, where the meth being brought here is in bigger amounts, with greater purity. Stenejhem said it’s coming from the southern US and from Mexico.

"That's something that is very concerning for law enforcement," Stenehjem said. "Now they're contending with organized cartels, who are heavily armed, and bringing meth in in increasing quantities. We're struggling as best we can to keep a handle on it."

The high for DUI arrests happened in 2012, when there were 7,382 arrests. In 2019, the number had dropped to 4,828.

"I think that's owed in part to increased penalties, to the participation in the '24-7' program, and I think society has started to recognize that driving under the influence is a serious offense," Stenehjem said. "It is not a joke, or something to be taken lightly anymore. The risk to society is simply too great."

Also in 2019, the state reported 26 homicides. That compared to 17 in 2018. But the number of aggravated assults was down.

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