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Watford City Police Dept. receives $380,000 grant

Posted 11/06/13 (Wed)

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

It is no secret that the law enforcement agencies in McKenzie County have been overloaded. In last week’s paper, the McKenzie County Farmer reported that the Land Board awarded roughly $1.1 million to the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Department to deal with the impacts of the area’s oil and gas development.
Similarly, on Sept. 26, 2013, the Land Board also awarded the Watford City Police Department $380,000 of the $600,000 it requested to deal with the toll oil and gas development has taken on the city of Watford City.
According to Watford City Police Chief Jesse Wellen, the Watford City Police Department and the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Department are in need of many of the same things.
He states that he put in a request for money to help fund overtime hours for his officers, as well as three new vehicles, equipment to fully equip those vehicles, two desktop computers, duty gear for new officers, evidence collection supplies, training equipment and money to host a domestic violence training seminar in Watford City.
“The main focus is to better educate all officers whether they are a new recruit or a veteran officer,” states Wellen. “Hopefully, this training will help them with their responses to domestic violence calls and answer any questions that they may have.”
He is planning to host a domestic violence seminar in Watford City, not only for his officers, but all North Dakota Law Enforcement agencies as well.
“The training is to better assist officers with the types of domestic violence calls that they are running into,” states Wellen. “This training is available for all law enforcement agencies and makes it easier for law enforcement agencies on the western side of the states to attend.”
In addition to the seminar, Wellen states that his department is in need of equipment, vehicles, and space.
“The department has 10 officers, but only seven vehicles,” states Wellen.
Though Wellen still has three open positions, he hopes to hire three additional officers soon. And when he does, he hopes to be able to give them their own vehicle. Wellen’s eventual goal is to have one vehicle per officer.
“As it is right now, we have to swap vehicles, which can be difficult,” states Wellen. “Especially, when one vehicle is out of commission because it needs maintenance.”
Wellen also requested funds for two new desktop computers. He states that the department has three desktops currently, but again, there are 10 officers.
“One desktop is at my desk, one is for downloading the surveillance video from our vehicles, and one computer is for interviews,” states Wellen. “If there is not an open desktop, the officers have to take their Toughbooks out of their vehicles and bring them in to the station to fill out reports. Then, when they get a call, they have to load them back into the vehicle.”
The addition of computers would not be anything without the additional workspace that is coming with the Watford City City Hall remodeling project.
“Once the City Hall remodel is done, the contractors will begin to work on the police station remodel,” states Wellen.
And with the remodel of the Watford City Police Station, Wellen states he will receive more computer stations to go with those additional desktop computers.
“Instead of all the officers sharing one big office space, there will be divided offices with doors, and a more secure lobby area,” states Wellen.
Wellen states that the Police Station construction will begin once the City Hall addition is complete.
The Land Board is planning to award a second round of grants later this year, and Wellen states that he plans to submit an application for additional funds.