The 24/7 sobriety program aims to keep people involved in alcohol-related crimes sober. The program has been growing over the year, including in Minnehaha County. This is putting additional strain on the sheriff's office, but a new job opening will soon ease a little bit of that pressure.
More than 400 people report to the Minnehaha County Jail every day to prove their sobriety through the 24/7 program. They perform a breathalyzer twice a day. More than 100 more are on constant monitoring bracelets.
Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead told commissioners of those numbers and why he needs to hire a deputy to focus on the 24/7 program.
"I trust that the sheriff knows what he is doing, and when he gives the numbers that are in that program and the numbers of people going through that program on a daily basis, I can see the need for a manager," Commissioner Cindy Heiberger said.
One reason the sheriff gave for getting this new deputy position is to keep them posted where the tests are taken. That way if someone fails a sobriety test, they can be arrested immediately.
"You've got the compliance issues. You've got the issues of going out when the guy runs and going out to the house and getting him. And you don't need to take a deputy out of Dell Rapids to get a guy who fled on the 24/7," Commissioner Dick Kelly said.
The sheriff added that the responsibilities for his office continue to grow with the expansion and evolution of the program. Money from the state's 24/7 budget will pay for the new position and its related expenses.
"That could change next year. That's my position. I'm supporting this today, but if things change, then we're going to have to revisit this issue," Commissioner John Pekas said.
Commissioners agreed that if the fund for that position dries up, the job should follow suit. With a three-to-one vote, commissioners gave the go-ahead to create the new job.
Commissioner Jeff Barth was the lone no vote, but did say taxes need to be increased on alcohol sales to help pay for programs like 24/7. Commissioner Gerald Beninga was not at the meeting.