Calling South Dakota's meth problem a "scourge," state and local authorities unveiled a new texting service Thursday that accepts anonymous tips about drug crimes. Organizers of Project Stand Up hope those who traffic in drugs, especially meth, will get the message that their actions aren't tolerated anywhere in the state.
In Minnehaha County alone, meth arrests are up 60 percent this year.
"We need to get rid of meth in this community. We will not be safe until we do. It is causing massive problems; it is propelling our crimes out of control," Minnehaha County State's Attorney Aaron McGowan said.
Project Stand Up wants to enlist anonymous texters to help law enforcement get more meth makers and dealers off the streets.
"Meth changes everything. How about we change everything for the better, by utilizing this tool," South Dakota Public Safety Secretary Trevor Jones said.
Each texter will answer questions about their location, so the proper law enforcement agency can be notified. Then a software program "scrubs" the information so the text remains anonymous.
"Use this system, help us help you rid our community of this problem," Sioux Falls Police Chief Matt Burns said.
Law enforcement says it's the immediacy of a text that will allow investigators to respond more quickly to a drug deal that's unfolding in real time.
"A text happens right away, gets that information to our local law enforcement to reach and to protect the public," Attorney General Marty Jackley said.
As texting becomes more and more the preferred way to communicate, especially among Millennials, law enforcement hopes the popularity of texts will lead to more tips, and ultimately, more arrests.
No taxpayer dollars are going into Project Stand Up. Sanford Health is donating funds to get the program up and running.
If you'd like to provide a tip for law enforcement, text the word "drugs" to 82257.
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Amid a growing number of meth arrests, South Dakota law enforcement wants you to remember these five numbers: 82257. That's the number to text if you know about drug abuse in your community.