The new four-officer Northern Plains Squad of the South Dakota Highway Patrol put in its first day of work today. The HP has charged this new squad with the unenviable duty of patrolling the entire northwest quarter of the state, with a focus on U.S. Highway 85 and S.D. Highway 79, which bear the brunt of Bakken oil field traffic.
To keep these increasingly busy and hazardous routes safe, Sergeant Desmond Watson now oversees three new troopers, brought to you by federal dollars:
The new squad was made possible by a federal Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant, which allowed for the three new trooper positions within the highway patrol [Kaylee Tschetter, "SD Highway Patrol Squad to Activate in Belle," Black Hills Pioneer, 2013.03.29, p. 2].
President Bill Clinton created the COPS program in 1994 to promote a change in policing philosophy toward preventing crime by getting police to interact more with community members. Now COPS seems to be just a "hire more officers" program... and maybe part of the disturbing trend toward militarization of the police that the ACLU is currently investigating.
Uncle Sam has given South Dakota $375K to cover our three new troopers' pay and benefits for three years. Then South Dakota will foot the full bill for the Northern Plains Squad, to which Tschetter reports the SDHP already plans to add four more troopers to handle the growing traffic and crime along our northwest corridor...
...which means South Dakota will be footing the bill for more of the externalities caused by Big Oil's exploitation of North Dakota's natural resources.