Eye on KELOLAND: Remote policing

Eye on KELOLAND

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — If you live or work in southwest Sioux Falls, you may have already driven by a new addition to the police department, and not even noticed it. Police have opened their first report-to-work station, located on West 57th Street. The building allows officers to respond more quickly to calls in that growing part of the city.

Some officers with the Sioux Falls Police Department are working remotely, but not because of the pandemic.

“We basically live where we work,” Matt VanderVelde with the Sioux Falls Police Department said.

Officers are based out of this report-to-work-station as a way to respond more quickly to calls in the southwest part of the city.

“The biggest advantage is the distance and time. We’re able to come here to go on shift. I’m able to get to a call much faster, so the response time is better for the public and for us,” VanderVelde said.

Police are leasing this renovated building that once housed an ambulance service. An independent study showed this increased police presence was needed for this area of the city.

“Most of our call volume and our longest response time were to the southwest part of the city and so it made a lot of sense just intrinsically, but also the data proved that that’s where we needed to have our first station,” Sioux Falls Police Chief Matt Burns said.

Each work day starts with an online briefing where officers here at the report-to-work station can communicate directly with their police counterparts, downtown.

“It’s truly just a mini-patrol station that suits all the officers’ needs so they don’t have to come back to the law enforcement center in their course of their day,” Burns said.

Around a half-dozen officers can be working in the station during a shift. The building also includes a conference room, locker rooms and an evidence room.

“Let’s say we need to drop-off items at the police station downtown for evidence. We are self-sufficient here with evidence and so it saves us anywhere from 20-minutes to 40-minutes drive-time,” VanderVelde said.

Working a half-hour away from the Law Enforcement Center has other advantages for the officers stationed here.

“It’s a little quieter. It’s a little more business-like down here. There’s less traffic coming in and out so you’re not easily distracted and you’re a little more focused to be able to go on with your day,” VanderVelde said.

The report-to-work station also helps to ease a space crunch at the downtown Law Enforcement Center.

“The design of this building was not constructed that we could go up. And so we are land-locked and finite in what we can do here, so with the continued growth of the department and of the city, it was determined that we needed to have a remote station,” Burns said.

And the city isn’t stopping at just one remote station. Plans are in the works to add a police report-to-work location in another rapidly-growing area of southeast Sioux Falls.

“We know that today is taking care of itself. So you really have to be looking 5-10, plus, 15-years down the road at what the needs are of the city growth patterns to responsibly plan for the grown of government to keep up with the needs of the citizens and the residents of our city,” Burns said.

Officers say their expanded footprint in southwest Sioux Falls makes them more visible and responsive to the people they serve.

Officers headquartered at the report-to-work station will still have to go downtown to drop-off suspects at the Minnehaha County Jail.

If you live in the southwest part of the city and need to contact police, call their main number, or 911. Don’t stop by the report-to-work station since it’s likely that no officers are inside the building, because they’re all out on patrol.

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