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Dunn County approves adding detective position

MANNING -- The Dunn County Commission approved for its sheriff's department to open up a position for a detective on the force.

Recently appointed Dunn County Sheriff Clay Coker said at last week's commission meeting at the county courthouse that he has a deputy in mind to dedicate to the position, which would target mostly drug crimes and other major crimes. It would also allow other deputies to fill the needs of the department's day-to-day operations.

"I reviewed what was presented before I was hired and I do see a need (for an investigator)," Coker said. "I have conferred with the state's attorney and he supports adding the position to the department. I think there's a need for it, but if at the end of the funding I can't show you the need for it, you have the grace to take it away, too."

Dunn County State's Attorney Ross Sundeen said hiring an investigator to handle more targeted work would be a good decision on the county's part.

"You have a lot of guys out there who are excellent patrol officers, but they are not necessarily excellent investigators," he said. "I think if we can get somebody in the detective's position that can take the lead on that and follow through with it, then we are going to do a better job as crime fighters.

"I like the idea of being proactive on it because, I guarantee you, there is a bigger problem out there than the public wants to acknowledge or realizes," Sundeen said.

Housing for employees is an issue. However, Coker said that could be helped by funding from the Legislature, a topic that was discussed at a meeting he recently attended in Watford City with Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and other sheriffs and police chiefs from the oil-impact area.

"There are basically two pots of money," Coker said. "The $7 million pot is earmarked especially for county law enforcement in the oil-impacted counties, and we're like fourth or fifth on the list."

Commissioner Daryl Dukart agreed with Coker, suggesting he would apply for any grants he thinks the department might be eligible to receive.

"If you don't at least apply, you'll never get it," he said.

The grant funds, which run from Nov. 1 through April 2015, are designated for the purchase of equipment, overtime, training and housing allowances, but not to fund personnel.

The grant recipients will be announced in September.

Emergency funding is being offered in the meantime, and Coker said he plans to make a request for some money in order to help with a housing allowance for new personnel.