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US attorney in North Dakota wants to tackle Native American crime

Fargo, North Dakota (AP) July 2011

The U.S. attorney for North Dakota has unveiled his strategy to try to improve the safety of the state’s tribal communities by cracking down on violent crime, though he acknowledges that the effort could take years to have an impact.

“The statistics involving violence on (American Indian) reservations are unacceptable,” Timothy Purdon said during announcements in Fargo and Bismarck following months of talks with tribal leaders “Native Americans in North Dakota, and the rest of the country, are not going to be able to overcome decades of isolation and poverty until they first feel safe in their homes and neighborhoods.”

Purdon said he wants to use both vigorous prosecution and prevention initiatives such as school outreach programs to address high rates of substance abuse, domestic violence, drug trafficking and assaults. The U.S. attorney’s office has jurisdiction over serious crimes on reservations, and Purdon’s strategy emphasizes even greater involvement. An assistant U.S. attorney is being assigned to deal with each of the state’s four reservations, he said in stories published by The Forum and The Bismarck Tribune.

“This will not solve all of our public safety challenges in tribal communities. Rather, our hope is that the strategy is the first step,” he said. “I do not think this is going to be easy. I do not think these challenges will be solved by simple solutions. It’s going to take many years. . But just because this is hard, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.”


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