Since 2016, nearly half of all reported drug overdose deaths in North Dakota involved opioids and the state has remained one of the top states in the US, per capita, for traffic fatalities — both areas of concern for law enforcement and lawmakers.

On July 23, Dickinson area law enforcement agencies participated in a multi-agency operation focused on narcotics interdiction and increased traffic safety around Interstate 94, State highway 22 and US highway 85.

Since the comprehensive Vision Zero initiative was launched in 2018 by the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT), Highway Patrol and Department of Health, traffic fatalities in the state have decreased year over year with 2019 statistics falling below 100 for the first time since 2002.

“The only acceptable number of deaths on North Dakota roads is zero, and every year that we move closer to that goal represents important progress, because these aren’t just numbers – they’re people’s lives, and every life matters,” Burgum said about Vision Zero. “We’re grateful to our Vision Zero partners for their dedication to keeping everyone safe and secure, and to the traveling public who have heeded the initiative’s emphasis on personal responsibility, including driving sober and distraction-free, buckling up and slowing down.”

The operation last week consisted of officers from the Dickinson and Belfield Police Departments, Deputies from the Dunn and Stark County Sheriff’s Offices, Troopers from the North Dakota Highway Patrol and Agents of the Southwest Narcotics Task Force.

The six hour operation resulted in 108 traffic stops for various traffic violations ranging from excessive speed to equipment violations.

"The vast majority of the traffic stops resulted in verbal warnings," Sheriff Corey Lee, Stark County Sheriff's Office, said. "The goal of the operation was to encourage safe driving during the summer months that see a large increase in traffic as well as serious accidents."

The operation involved five area K9 units hailing from Belfield, Dickinson, Dunn County, Stark County and the NDHP.

The K9 units were positioned throughout the area and were used frequently in efforts to boost the proficiency and experience of the dogs and handlers.

Officers involved in the operation were paired with officers from other agencies, including the Southwest Narcotics Task Force and various department leaders, in an effort to boost the working relationship between area law enforcement, increase the safety of officers involved in the operation and encourage the sharing of information and ideas between officers and agencies.

All area law enforcement said that they remain committed to the safety of area communities by combating the flow of illicit drugs into and through our area, as well as reminding those traveling through our area to do so in a safe manner.