- Associated Press - Thursday, March 5, 2015

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - The FBI said Thursday that it will establish a regional office in the western North Dakota oil patch to help address the rise in crime that has accompanied the area’s population boom.

The Williston office should be fully staffed and operational later this year, agency spokesman Kyle Loven said. It will coordinate its investigations with agents who cover the oil boom in eastern Montana.

“We look forward to continuing our collaborative efforts with our local law enforcement partners in the region through this permanent presence,” Loven said.

Sen. John Hoeven said the project developer, Triland Holdings LLC, of Williston, plans to break ground on the new building in May and complete the 6,000-square-foot office by September. Agents have been identified for transfer to Williston and will be on-site soon, he said.

“Our new FBI office in Williston now has a site at the heart of the Bakken, which is vital not only for addressing crime, but also for maintaining our quality of life,” Hoeven said.

He and fellow Sen. Heidi Heitkamp have been petitioning the federal government to open a permanent office in Williston.

“If we’re serious about building up the necessary law enforcement infrastructure for a firm line of defense against growing crimes like drug and human trafficking, we must work hand-in-hand with our federal partners,” Heitkamp said.

The FBI also has North Dakota offices in Fargo, Grand Forks, Bismarck and Minot.

Timothy Purdon, U.S. attorney from North Dakota, said the new office is the “logical next step” in the response to organized crime in the oil patch, but more resources are needed at all levels.

“I’s not just more cops,” Purdon said. “You’re going to need more prosecutors, judges, jail cells, probation officers, treatment centers … all of it.”

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Associated Press writer Kevin Burbach in Sioux Falls, S.D., contributed to this report.

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