SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — When it comes to crime in Sioux Falls drugs are king.
Sioux Falls Police Chief Matt Burns said Wednesday that while the city’s violent crime rate remains relatively flat narcotics crimes are high and methamphetamine is making the biggest impact.
The Sioux Falls Police Department had a record number 3,043 narcotics cases in 2019 compared to 2,856 in 2018. The city had 2,409 cases in 2015, 2,772 in 2016 and 2,992 in 2017.
The police department seized a record amount of meth (133.35 pounds) in 2019.
The 2019 surpasses the record 56.32 pounds seized in 2018, Mayor Paul TenHaken said. That figure was a 400% increase over 2017, he said.
“…it’s never been more available and it’s never been cheaper,” Burns said of meth.– Sioux Falls Police Chief Matt Burns
The amount of meth seized in 2019 was more than the amount of marijuana seized in 2019. That was a first for the police department, Burns said.
Overall, Sioux Falls Police responded to a record number of incidents at 125,885 which is 3% increase and consistent with the city’s population growth, Burns said.
But, despite growing by about 3,500 people in 2019, Sioux Falls did not experience a rise in violent crime, officials said.
“What’s happened with violent crime (numbers) per 1,000 people, that’s a pretty flat number,” TenHaken said. The numbers indicate that Sioux Falls is a safe city, TenHaken said.
According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, violent crime is composed of four offenses: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Also, violent crime involves force or threat of force, according to the FBI.
Crime incidents have grown over the past five years from 96,488 in 2015. The city’s estimated population in 2015 was 169,800.
While the city has grown by about 2 to 2.5% over the past few years the violent crime rate has not grown at the same rate, officials said.
Still, there have been increases in some crimes. The city had 10 murders in 2017, eight in 2018 and eight in 2019. The city had three in 2015 and six in 2016.
A five-year high of 160 rape incidents was recorded in 2016. The city had a low of 121 in 2019.
Aggravated assaults incidents were at the five-year low in 2017 with 306 and a high in 2019 with 379.
Simple assaults incidents increased to 860 in 2019 from the prior high of 716 in 2018.
Aggravated and simple domestic assault showed increases in 2019. There were 1,014 incidents of simple assault domestic in 2019. There were 343 incidents of aggravated domestic assault. The five-year low for simple assault domestic was 779 in 2015. The five-year low for aggravated assault domestic was 256 in 2017.
The city had more burglaries, stolen vehicles and larcenies in 2019 than in 2018. Seven-hundred-eighteen burglaries were reported in 2019 compared to 682 in 2018. The 2019 number is lower than in 2015 when 973 were reported.
Police responded to 759 stolen vehicle incidents in 2019. In 2015, there were 472.
Larceny incidents hit a five-year high with 5,321.
Drivers appeared to obey the laws except for speeding in 2019.
Most traffic category incident declined in 2019 from 2018. Police issued 24,322 traffic citations in 2019. Police issued 24,607 in 2018 and 32,283 in 2017.
Police arrested 904 drivers for driving while impaired, another 1,378 for no driver’s license, 889 for driving while suspended and 183 for driving while revoked.
While there were more speeding citations in 2019 (6,570) than in the prior year (5,001) but not as many drivers drove as fast in 2019 as in 2017 when 8,512 citations were issued for speeding.
Sioux Falls Police Spokesman Sam Clemens said the department does not keep crime statistics for specific neighborhoods.
The city does use an interactive map called Crime Mapping.com that tracks reported crimes but Clemens said the map may have some time limitations. The map tracks crimes but on Feb. 5, the calendar tracked reports from Aug. 8, 2019 through Feb. 5. The map has a limit to the number incidents it can show during a time period but it will indicate the type of crime as well provide information on the day of the week for types of crime.
TenHaken said the city will continue to watch violent crime incidents closely and to address the battle with methamphetamine and drug use.
Since 2016, 21 police officers have been added the force and $7 million has been added to the police department budget, he said. One of the additions has been community resource officer Sarah VanVoorst who can work with individuals with mental health and substance abuse needs.
The city’s police department has detectives assigned to the police narcotics unit. Clemens said those detectives are part of the Sioux Falls Area Drug Task Force. The task force also includes the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office, the Division of Criminal Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and Homeland Security.