Bakken Crime Causes Feud Between Senators


Does it seem like North Dakota and Montana have turned into the wild West over the past several years? Some folks may claim that it has, especially as crime rates continue to rise in both states. Drug offenses and a slew of other illicit activities remain an issue of great concern. In July of 2013, 2 FBI agents and an agency intelligence specialist were posted in Sidney, MT, approximately forty-five miles away from where they were originally to be posted in Williston, ND, due to a housing shortage.

Now, there is a battle brewing between senators from both North Dakota and Montana, because of the possibility that the FBI agents could be moved back to Williston. In a joint letter to FBI Director, James Covey, Senators John Hoeven and Heitkamp, requested that the agents return to Williston. Senator Jon Tester of Montana did not agree, and said the following in his letter to Covey:

Moving agents from eastern Montana to western North Dakota is not an effective response to our region’s growing problems.
— Senator Jon Tester


In 2008 when oil prices skyrocketed, cities like Williston, North Dakota and Sidney, Montana, changed overnight, as advanced drilling technologies (i.e. horizontal drilling) allowed oil companies to access the oil rich Bakken Shale. Over time, motorhomes and man camps have become a regular sight, as thousands of people have flocked to the area in search of well-paying jobs.

There's no doubt that cities like Williston, ND and Sidney, MT could easily be characterized as a boomtowns. Webster's Dictionary simply defines this as "a town that experiences a sudden growth in business and population." When that happens, what follows is generally an increase in crime-related activity.

It remains to be seen where the federal agents will be permanently posted, but one thing is certain, and that is a federal presence will continue to be necessary in the region.

Read more: Senator Jon Tester Press Release

Read more: Senator John Hoeven and Senator Heidi Heitkamp Letter