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New troopers assigned to area

All but one of the 15 recent graduates from the North Dakota Highway Patrol’s academy will be stationed in western North Dakota.

Of those 14, the majority of whom are from North Dakota, two are serving in the motor carrier division in the agency’s southwest region. Trooper Cody Nuenthel has been assigned to Dickinson; Trooper Benjamin Hixson is assigned will serve in Killdeer.

New troopers from Friday’s graduating class received their assignments this week, Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Michael Gerhart announced in a release Monday.

Both Nuenthel and Hixson are graduates of North Dakota State University.

Eight troopers will be stationed in the patrol’s northwest region: Troopers Matthew Johnson and Jacob Thoreson are assigned to the motor carrier division in Williston; Brian Larson, Cameron McCann, Michelle Quiles and Zachary Schwartz are assigned to traffic in Williston; Eric Rumple has been assigned to traffic in Watford City; and Brandon Sola will serve in traffic in Velva.

All troopers will participate in a field training program upon arriving at their posts.

Since 2011, the North Dakota Highway Patrol has added 20 additional officers on top of an authorized 148 sworn officers to the western side of the state, public information officer Sgt. Tom Iverson said Monday.

"That’s a big increase," he said. "They definitely have a substantial impact on our state’s roadways and the safety of them."

He said assignments are determined by a multitude of reasons, but the state’s need is a primary factor.

"We have to look statewide where the greatest need is, and we are in great need of law enforcement officers placed in Western North Dakota," he said.

Thirteen of the 15 graduates were assigned to oil-producing counties, mostly to replace outgoing or transferring troopers, he said. Increases in crimes and fatal crashes have put extra work on agencies in western counties.

"We’re still adding to our force out in North Dakota," Iverson said. "That alone will be beneficial to provide some relief to law enforcement that has been out in that area."

The 63rd legislative session appropriated 15 addition troopers to be stationed in North Dakota, and Iverson said the Highway Patrol is in the planning phases of next year’s budget to determine whether it will get more troopers.