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Fargo Police Chief: overall crime is down, but struggles with mental health and overdoses remain

Fargo Police Chief David Zibolski
City of Fargo
Fargo Police Chief David Zibolski

Dave Zibolski says his department is struggling to get a handle around these issues, while a general decline in crime is happening communitywide.

Fargo’s police chief says overall, crime statistics are down in 2022 from the previous year.

"I would attribute that not only to the excellent work of our department members, but the excellent participation and partnership with our community. You don't really solve crime, address crime, prevent crime without strong community and police partnerships; and I feel like we have that in many areas of our city."

Despite a general downward trend, Chief Dave Zibolski says there are some areas that need attention. One of them is an increase in calls for service for mental health cases. Zibolski says in this time frame, a new call code for these these incidents was implemented – and that may attribute to the increase. But he says a good portion of the calls are in response to the same individuals.

"We really do need some help in that area from treatment facilities; if you think about location, we've got a large population here and a large amount of folks in that particular situation. It would really be ideal to have something here locally. Our options are short-term - 24-72 hours - or the rare instance where someone is long-termed to the state hospital in Jamestown, taking them away from family, community, etcetera - which doesn't necessarily help recovery."

Zibolski says another area of concern is overdoses, which also increased. He says the police department does what they can to find harmful substances like fentanyl and take them off the streets; but a troubling new trend is emerging. Zibolski says some opioids are becoming resistant to revival methods like Narcan, and an entirely new drug is showing up in local supplies.

"I don't think we're gaining any ground with what we're doing - and what we are doing is being upended by the introduction of xylazine, which is an extremely poisonous drug that has been introduced into the M30s that the Drug Enforcement Administration has briefed law enforcement on this in general. We've had a couple of cases where we've been able to detect xylazine in some of our fatal overdoses, and xylazine is resistant to Narcan. So our sole, reliant drug to basically reverse an overdose is now going to be countermanded by the introduction of xylazine. And at this juncture, we don't have any more tools."

While burglaries, motor vehicle thefts and drug and narcotics offenses all decreased – Zibolksi says unfortunately aggravated assaults and rape incidents increased by 22 percent.