SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Drug crime arrests are up so far in 2021 but most other crimes are down, Sioux Falls Police Chief Jon Thum said in a news briefing today (Nov. 29).

Thum and Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken provided a crime update with data through the end of October. The update comes as Thum and TenHaken said members of the public have been asking about crime in the city.

“We’re still one of the departments (of its size) that does daily press briefings,” Thum said.

The daily briefings in which information about the latest crimes are shared can make the public think crimes and crime rates are higher than they are, Thum and TenHaken said.

So far, the crime rate in the city is lagging behind the population growth, Thum said. The crime rate is below many cities and metropolitan areas the size of Sioux Falls and Sioux Falls metro area, Thum said.

Population growth and crime rate growth are closely linked as criminals are part of the population.

Any growth in population includes growth in the number of criminals.

Most of the crimes committed in Sioux Falls are locals, Thum said.

“People who reside here, people who have already been arrested, people who are known to us…,” Thum said. “We are not seeing an influx of the criminal element (coming to the city to commit crimes and leaving).”

Also, population and related growth create more opportunities for criminals, Thum said.

Although numbers may be down from 2020 in several crime categories, some are still close to 2019 numbers.

Aggravated assaults, for example, declined to 430 this year from 481 in 2020. But there were 325 in 2018.

Domestic aggravated assaults were down to 365 from 389 but are still higher than the 294 recorded in 2019.

As of the end of October, there were three homicides in Sioux Falls. That’s down from 11 in 2020 and six in 2019. Thum said the city has had two additional homicides in November.

Based on population, the city could have had almost 20.

Drug crime arrests have climbed since 2019.

There were “record amounts of fentanyl seized,” Thum said.

The task force seized 2,015.03 grams of fentanyl through October. There were 309.13 grams seized in 2020 and 47.72 in 2019. Law enforcement seized 1,209 in 2018.

“Fentanyl is probably one of the more dangerous drugs out there,” Thum said.

Fentanyl is linked to drug overdoses, a statistic that has increased in the city.

“The reality is known overdoes, overdoses that the police end up being involved in, are on a record pace,” Thum said.

The city had 70 overdoses through October. It hit 81 in 2019 and 53 in 2020.

There have been 26 overdose deaths through October.

“These 26 deaths have names behind them,” Thum said.

The deaths are mostly among teens and individuals in their early 20s, he said. One of the most difficult duties of an emergency worker or police officer is to tell a parent their child has died from an overdose, Thum said.

A practice that may be more a small-town habit rather than a practice in a growing metro area has helped lead to 1,096 stolen vehicles.

Many of the stolen vehicles had keys inside, Thum said.

Some of the stolen vehicles have firearms inside.

Those firearms and other stolen in the city have been used in other crimes, including in cities outside of South Dakota, Thum said.

Crimes comparison

The city’s population grew to an estimated 195,850 in 2020 from 190,750 in 2019.

The annual 2020 crime report showed Sioux Falls had 6.55 violent crimes per 1,000 people in 2020. The rate was 4.98 in 2019.

Property crimes were at 37.15 per 1,000 people in 2020. The rate was 35.67 in 2019.

Burglaries increased to 719 through October this year from 632 in 2020 and 586 in 2019.

Sioux Falls recently hit the $1 billion mark in building permit values. That’s comparable to Boise, Idaho, which was noted by city officials in a Nov. 22 news conference.

The estimated population of Boise is 229,993 which is roughly 35,000 more than Sioux Falls.

Although the two cities have had comparable building permit values, Sioux Falls has outpaced the city in incidents in some crime categories

The city of Boise lists its crime rate from 2018 on its website. The violent crime rate was just over 2 per 1,000 people in 2018. The property crime rate was just over 20 per 1,000 in 2018.

Boise had 380 aggravated assaults in the calendar year 2020. Sioux Falls had 481 through October of 2020.

Boise also had 479 burglaries in 2020 while Sioux Falls had 632 and 2019 the year prior, both through October.

The 1,096 motor vehicle thefts reported through October this year in Sioux Falls are less than the 1,498 reported in Des Moines, according to the Des Moines Police Department’s 2020 crime report on the city’s website.

There were 106 rapes reported in 2020 in Des Moines compared to 104 through October of 2020 in Sioux Falls.

Des Moines had nearly three times as many aggravated assaults in 2020 than Sioux Falls. Des Moines had 1,033 aggravated assaults and Sioux Falls had 481 through October of 2020.

The estimated population of Des Moines is 214,133. The estimated Des Moines area metropolitan area for 2020 is about 703,000.

The Sioux Falls metro area estimated 2020 population is about 268,800.