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Dial 911 for emergencies only: Non-emergency numbers available to public

Residents forgetting they left their garage door open, a man in a van yelling at skateboarders or a granddaughter coming home late from a movie are some of the calls the Dickinson Police Department have gotten in recent weeks and they don't mind responding to them.

While the DPD and Stark County Sheriff's Office welcome all calls, citizens should be aware of the difference between the need for police assistance and an emergency, DPD Capt. Dave Wilkie said.

"Our dispatchers are nice about it. They'll generally let a person know that this doesn't qualify as an emergency call. Next time with something like this could you please call back on the non-emergency number," he said.

Law enforcement is required by North Dakota Century Code to respond to a call, SCSO Capt. Fern Moser said.

"We have to and we will respond," he said.

And those seemingly unimportant calls could be a trigger to help solve a case, because someone who commits what might count as a minor infraction may also be committing larger crimes, Wilkie said.

"A stop on that vehicle then could lead to a drug arrest or a seizure of a large quantity of drugs which would then lead to an investigation, which could then lead to a drug dealer in town being arrested because of this call," he said.

Nine-one-one was created as an emergency response system and now many people know it as the only way to contact the police, fire department or ambulance, Wilkie said.

"That's for 'I need assistance right this second,'" he said. "This is a life-and-death kind of thing."

The influx of people into the area brought on by an oil boom has also created a heightened sense of awareness, Moser said.

A person out walking or a stationary vehicle might have been ignored before the population boom, but now people are calling it in more, he said.

"That's what we're here for and that's what we'll definitely do nine times out of 10, that person's or that vehicle's gone," Moser said.

Newcomers can also be credited with the influx of 911 calls, Wilkie said.

"It's probably a lot easier for someone from Louisiana ... it's probably easier for them to call 911 in a police situation than it is to try to find a phone book somewhere and figure out what the police number is."

Most of the calls the North Dakota Highway Patrol responds to are reckless drivers, Sgt. Dan Haugen said.

"We'll locate the vehicle, but we can't stop the vehicle unless we see a violation in person," he said. "A lot of times, whatever they did recklessly in the reporting party's eyes they're not doing currently when they're next to us."

But if the driver doesn't correct themselves before coming in contact with NDHP, they can and will be pulled over, Haugen said. This can lead to finding an impaired driver.

SCSO has found stolen cars with the help from citizens, Moser said.

"We get a lot of praise for, 'Hey, thanks for finding my car,' but the public stepped forward and helped us out," he said. "A lot of our success is public related and we thank the public for everything that they do to help us."

Non-emergency numbers

Dickinson Police Department: 701-456-7759

Stark Co. Sheriff's Office: 701-456-7610, ext. 0

North Dakota Highway Patrol: 800-472-2121

In case of an emergency, call 911

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
(701) 456-1206