CARLSBAD, N.M. (KRQE) – The oil boom in southeastern New Mexico is bringing in millions of dollars of revenue for the state, but it is also bringing a big increase in crime.
The oil boom has created problems for the Eddy County Sheriff’s Department. There are more people in the county than ever before because of all the oil workers, and that means the sheriff’s department is seeing an increase in calls for violent crime, fatal accidents, and the huge increase in 911 calls compared to before the boom.
“Oh no, our records of calls increased probably anywhere from two to three to even four times depending what it was,” said Sheriff Mark Cage.
The sheriff is most concerned with combating the increase in violent crime. The department is teaming up with the feds, creating special enforcement groups for violent crime and traffic.
Another problem is the sheriff’s department is currently short nine deputies, and with the oil boom, it’s hard to find qualified applicants. Then the pay can’t keep up with the skyrocketing cost.
“One of the struggles we have is housing. We struggle tremendously with housing. Real estate prices are really inflated here. The average deputy can’t afford to purchase a $300,000 home,” said Sheriff Cage.
The sheriff’s pay cannot compete with how much the oilfield workers make, and every police department in the state is searching for employees.