October 29, 2014

Crime and Punishment

By Chris Erickson

With the boom in oil and the subsequent population increase in the state in the past few years, the number of drugs and drug-related charges has increased substantially. Efforts to enforce laws, prosecute criminals and attempt to rehabilitate addicts has increased as well at all levels, from federal and state government, and local partnerships such as the recent inclusion of Dunn County into the Mercer-McLean-Dunn Task Force.
While law enforcement such as local Sheriff’s departments and others try to stop the flow of drugs throughout the area, once drug offenders are caught there are other paths. Typically that means prosecution, although at times it can mean rehabilitation.
Mercer County States Attorney Jessica Binder stated that the partnership was essential in combating drugs.
“I think the expansion of the task force to include Dunn County reflects a higher mobility among addicts and dealers,” Binder said. “You’re not seeing as many local labs, it’s being transported more. So to have the alliances with the neighboring counties is essential to be able to target some of this stuff.”
Those alliances or partnerships don’t just occur from Sheriff’s Department to Sheriff’s Department or local police up to state investigators. It also goes through partnerships between prosecutors.
“Cooperation among neighboring state’s attorneys is critical for all sorts of reasons,” she said. “When you’ve got to get search warrants for people living in different counties, we’ve absolutely got to work together. I can’t imagine not having a good alliance with neighboring state’s attorneys.”
According to McLean County State’s Attorney Ladd Erickson, the other side of the lake has seen its own large increase in drug prosecutions in the last eight years.

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