SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota has hundreds of law enforcement officers, but every year a few of them lose their certification for various reasons, ranging from breaking the law to abuse of power.
Out of the hundreds of certified law enforcement officers across the state, every year, some of them may end up being the subject of an external investigation.
“An officer who in his off-duty hours got into a bar fight; something we’ve seen in the past. Or has been charged with assault; a domestic situation they had in their private life that bleeds over. There’s been alcohol use, there’s been drug use, anything of that sort,” South Dakota Attorney General Chief of Staff, Tim Bormann, said.
Since 2017, eight law enforcement officers have gone before the South Dakota Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Training Commission and have lost their certification. Two were suspended. During that same time period, another 14 voluntarily gave up their certification.
The state has now streamlined the complaint process against officers, adding an online form that can be filled out by an agency or individual.
“It allows an initial complaint against an officer to be made in writing and submitted to law enforcement training for further review and investigation,” Bormann said.
There are also more checks and balances in place. If the commission reviews a complaint and decides not to pursue it any further, it goes through another review.
“It’s just putting one more hoop in the way there to take a look at it and make sure everyone is in agreement, either that it is or is not a certification issue and whether or not it should go to the full commission,” Bormann said.
The governor’s office will also be appointing two civilian members to the standards and training commission.
Lake Norden’s Chief of Police was decertified by the commission in 2018.
Tonight at ten KELOLAND Investigates is exposing the cases that helped lead to that decision.
“This is where I was assaulted. He tased me while I was inside my vehicle twice. Then he threw me, ripped me out of the vehicle and threw me on the ground here into oncoming traffic, where I was almost run over by a pickup truck,” Nikolas Weeks said.
Nikolas Weeks is now suing former police chief Jimmy Murphy along with the City of Lake Norden and its officials, who he says should have done something earlier to remove Murphy from the job after hearing complaints from other citizens.
We investigate this “Ticket to Trouble” Thursday on KELOLAND News at ten.