Posted 1/20/15 (Tue)
By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer
As Watford City’s population continues to grow, so does demand of the city’s police force.
According to Art Walgren, city police chief, during the past year, the department responded to 7,418 calls for service - a seven percent increase over the 6,966 calls for service reveived in 2013.
And in 2014, Watford City policemen wrote 412 DUI-related citations, which was over a 35 percent increase from the 301 DUI-related citations written in 2013.
“The Attorney General’s office released a report that said we were number five in the state for DUIs for 2013,” said Walgren.
With numbers on the rise due to a dramatically increasing population, the Watford City Police Department received approval from the Watford City City Council to increase its manpower by adding several new positions to its department in 2015.
As of the first two weeks of January, the Watford City Police Department had interviewed and hired a new School Resource Officer, a new Community Service Officer, and another Detective, in addition to several new Patrol Officer positions.
Watford City Police Officer Nick Pavek is currently transitioning from being a Patrol Officer to becoming the new School Resource Officer. Over the last couple weeks, he has taken this new role on part-time, as other new officers are being trained. Once officers start returning back from training, Pavek will completely shift from the patrol side and become the School Resource Officer on a full-time basis.
“Nick is somebody that is a strong law enforcement officer,” says Walgren. “I know that he will be able to show the kids right from wrong, but be compassionate about doing so. I know he will be able to talk to them on their level. I wanted someone who could be on both sides, so to speak, and I think he will be able to do that very successfully.”
One of Walgren’s biggest pushes with the new School Resource Officer is to be able to get into the schools to not only teach important safety topics, such as dating violence, drugs, and alcohol, but to also be able to start teaching the kids a life skills course.
In addition to the new School Resource Officer, the department has also hired a new Community Service Officer. She officially started her role on Friday, Jan. 16. Her duties will mainly consist of parking control, animal control, vehicle lockouts, and daily paper runs to and from the courthouse and other city entities.
“She is a civilian employee,” says Walgren. “She won’t be armed, but will still be a sworn officer for the police department. She will work full-time on the day shift, Monday through Friday. This new position is a great addition and benefit to our department.”
In addition to the new School Resource Officer and a new Community Service Officer, the department has finally added a second Detective to its department as well. Officer Dylan Bostic has been hired and will be transitioning over from the patrol side of the Watford City Police Department in the next several weeks.
“This detective will have overall general assignment duties,” said Walgren. “But there will be a definite emphasis on narcotics.”
According to Walgren, the new patrol officers have also been hired, and one is about halfway through the 14-week field training program, while the other two officers are set to start their field training programs Feb. 1.
All the new positions come at a time when the police department is really feeling the effects and growing pains of a rapidly growing community. With the influx of people comes a greater need for services.
According to Walgren, another priority that will eventually need to be addressed in the near future is that of the current dispatch system for McKenzie County.
“To make the Police Department more effective and efficient, we need to change our philosophy in how dispatch is handled,” said Walgren “Whether that be for the county or for the city.”
In the meantime, Walgren is excited and thankful for the new officers his department has been afforded and looks forward to the benefits those positions will add in serving and protecting Watford City’s people.