Yet there are indications that communities and several Indian reservations in the Northern Plains have found themselves dealing with new types of crime more commonly associated with urban areas. Organized drug trafficking and prostitution rings top the list, officials said.
Mercer Armstrong with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the areas of southern Canada within the Bakken have seen a "major influx of criminality." That includes organized criminal enterprises from British Columbia moving into rural areas to establish the drug trade, he said.
The Bakken-area communities aren't the first to suffer the downsides of a boom, and Utah State University sociologist Richard Krannich said lessons can be drawn from other parts of the country where energy industry workers have come and gone.
"After the 'surprise' of rapid growth during the initial few years, most areas seemed to be reasonably successful in catching up," Krannich said.
In the U.S., federal agencies including the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are addressing the problems in the Bakken by adding new agents and trying to share intelligence with state and local officials.
Montana and North Dakota also have more state troopers on the road, in part to address rising numbers of traffic offenses including driving while intoxicated.
Some law enforcement agencies are having trouble filling posts. Qualified applicants will pass over deputy positions that start at less than $20 an hour to take oil field jobs that pay two to three times as much.
The result, said Tim Purdon, the U.S. attorney for North Dakota, is that police are in "100 percent reactive mode, running from call to call."
"Local departments have been squeezed to the point where they're having trouble performing proactive police works. We don't have the time," he said.
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