Policing the Patch
The goal of this study is to examine how the rapid population growth resulting from the oil boom has affected policing and crime and ultimate quality of life of citizens living in the "boom towns" in western North Dakota. Findings of the study include: Details of how the rapid population growth from the oil boom has changed the way that officers/deputies conduct their work because of a significant increase in calls for service from the public. The volume of calls for service has more than doubled in most of the agencies, and has more than tripled in several of the agencies since 2008. Second, the cost of living and availability of affordable housing has changed significantly since the oil boom began in 2008. This change has created several challenges for police agencies and sheriff's departments in western North Dakota including struggles with retention issues because of the high cost of living and lack of affordable housing, as well as employees leaving to take higher paying jobs in the oil industry or that have moved out of the region to a more affordable area. Third, officers/deputies reported a change in crime and fear of crime in their communities since the oil boom began in 2008. Citizens now lock their homes and cars, and some have even installed security systems in their homes. Some of the officers/deputies reported that women in their communities are less likely to go out by themselves during the day or evening.