Sioux Falls crime increases as city sets record for murders

KELOLAND.com Original

(Photo by JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Sioux Falls is growing and so is its incidents of crimes.

The growth in 2020 included an increase in violent crimes and a record number of murders. But the overall pace of reported criminal incidents doesn’t appear to be outpacing the growth in population.

There was a record 13 murders in Sioux Falls in 2020, but police made arrests in all of them, Sioux Falls Police Chief Matt Burns said.

“We solved all the cases,” Burns said in a 2020 crime report on Wednesday.

The city’s prior murder record was 10 in 2017.

The city has cleared all its murders each year since 2018 which is much higher than the national average of 61%.

Although the clearance for murders is good, the high number of murders are part of a year in which certain crimes have increased.

But Sioux Falls is no different than many other cities in the U.S., Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken said.

“Cities across the U.S. saw a spike in crime,” TenHaken said.

Burns said the coronavirus pandemic played a role in the increase in some crime categories. The pandemic disrupted lives, jobs, schools and overall family life, he said.

One of the results of the disruption was an increase in violent crimes.

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.

The city had an increase in 10 of 16 categories of non-drug and non-traffic crimes.

Thieves stole more cars (1,121), and stole more other things as robberies increased from 98 to 136 and burglaries increased from 718 to 775. The department’s clearance rate for stolen vehicles dipped to 41% from 44% in 2019. That is still higher than the national average of 14%.

Violent crimes included an increase in domestic assaults, Burns said. Domestic assault crimes increased in both categories.

The city had 1,313 simple domestic assaults, which is about 300 more than in 2019. There were 460 aggravated domestic assaults.

Aggravated assaults increased by 178 incidents with 557 in 2020 and 379 in 2019. There were 902 simple assaults.

Police said 81% of the assaults were cleared by arrest in 2020.

Two of the death incidents in Sioux Falls in 2020 highlight the increased connection between juveniles and violent crime.

Three teens, including one charged with murder, are charged as adults in the Dec. 9 death of Ephraim Duolo Shulue.

The death happened during a marijuana deal, police said.

Sioux Falls Police said on Nov. 4 that a juvenile was arrested in the shooting death of Venance Kitungano, 18, who was killed in a shooting outside of a Halloween party.

The police did not release data on juvenile crime today but TenHaken said “We are seeing more and more juveniles getting involved in adult-like behavior.”

The population of the city has grown by an average of 4,100 people from 2010 to 2020, according to the city. Calls for service have grown since 2014, according to the data provided Wednesday by the city. Since 2014, incident calls have not increased at the same annual pace but had a big jump from 2017 to 2018, according to city data.

Incident calls were at 92,928 in 2014, according to city data. The city had 127,477 in 2020. That is an increase of 34,549 in that timespan.

The city’s estimated population grew by 29,150 from a population of 166,700 in 2014 to 195,850 in 2020.

The city had 84,986 calls for service in 2010 and that increased to 85,378 in 2011, according to the 2014 annual report for Sioux Falls Police. The city’s population was 154,709 in 2010, according to the 2014 annual report.

The population grew by 11,991 from 2010 to 2014. Crime incidents grew by 7,942.

Burns and TenHaken emphasized the police will continue to be tough on drug crimes in the city.

Burns highlighted drug seizure data, some of which had been shared in a December news conference about the increase in drug crime in the city.

Police seized more than seven times the amount of fentanyl in 2020 than they did in 2019. Police seized 308.13 grams of fentanyl compared to 47.72 in 2019. No fentanyl was seized from 2014-2018.

Synthetic fentanyl is now available which accounts for its role in the narcotics drug world, Burns said.

“Before that it wasn’t something we saw much of,” Burns said.

There was more heroin and marijuana seized but less cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamine and synthetic marijuana seized than in 2019.

In 2019, police seized 2,109.66 grams of cocaine compared to 158.74 grams this year.

Based on crime data, motorists in Sioux Falls drove faster in 2020. Police issued 9,032 citations for speeding and a total of 25,282 traffic citations. There were 6,570 speeding citations issued in 2019.

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