— Official News Release, Office of Senator Hoeven —
WILLISTON, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven was in Williston today to announce that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will establish a permanent field office in the city.
Hoeven has been pushing for the new office to help local law enforcement better address increased crime rates as a result of the influx of new residents seeking jobs in the oil industry. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven was instrumental in securing approval for the field office, which required signoff by both Appropriations and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Last week, the committee formally notified the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) that the plan was approved. Hoeven had also made the case with Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan, who as required, signed off on the new office several weeks ago. The FBI will now have offices in Fargo, Bismarck, Minot, Grand Forks and Williston.
“After months of effort, today we’re announcing very good news for Williston and western North Dakota, as well eastern Montana,” Hoeven said. “We’re going to have an FBI office in Williston, and that’s vital not only for addressing crime, but also for maintaining our quality of life.”
The funding for the new office is included in the DOJ’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget, which included $8.25 billion for salaries and expenses. Once the lease is signed there will likely be additional costs associated with the office, and the FBI has sufficient reserves to cover additional expenses. Hoeven said the Senate DOJ bill for Fiscal Year 2015 funds the same account at $8.29 billion.
The effort to secure a permanent office in Williston began last year, when Hoeven and Senator Heidi Heitkamp called on FBI Director James Comey to establish a permanent presence in the city. Hoeven followed up with calls, roundtables and letters, most recently in September. Hoeven hosted a meeting in Williston with North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and area law enforcement officials to address the challenges they face and the need for federal agents to work in collaboration with local officials.
At the meeting, Hoeven and Stenehjem highlighted a joint letter they had sent to Comey and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) head Michele Leonhart pressing them to increase the number of agents and permanently staff offices in western North Dakota. Their letter can be found here.
To assist and expedite the siting of a permanent office, Hoeven’s regional director and Williston officials hosted FBI staff on a tour of the city and connected them with local developers to help identify potential locations. The senator’s office has continued to work as a liaison between agency officials and Williston developers to secure a suitable site.
The FBI is reviewing several good locations for the office in Williston and will work to finalize a lease for a specific site within the next month. Final staffing numbers for the office are not decided, but the senator believes there could be up to four agents, one clerical support staff and one analyst.