SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — The incoming police chief of Sioux Falls says he wants to build upon the law enforcement successes of the department as he prepares to take over later this month. We’re hearing for the first time from Jon Thum since the city council unanimously approved him as chief Tuesday night.
Thum is a native of Sioux Falls and has been with the police department for the last sixteen years. He’s been meeting regularly with current chief Matt Burns to get acquainted with his day-to-day duties. But it’s a job he says he cannot perform without the help of the broader community.
Jon Thum says a priority for him once he takes over as Sioux Falls police chief is to further strengthen ties within the community in order to prevent violent crime in the city.
“A lot of times, people look at the police department as the only source that’s going to deal with those issues. It’s the community that deals with those issues, as well. Especially when we come to gun violence, or violence in the neighborhood. The community can stand up and say we’re not going to deal with that, right? That’s not something we support,” Thum said.
Thum says an increase in crime comes with a growing city, but overall, Sioux Falls remains a very safe place to live.
“There’s a reason why I live here and raise my family here and live in central Sioux Falls, because it’s a safe spot to be at,” Thum said.
The Sioux Falls Police Department, along with other law enforcement agencies across the country, have struggled with staffing issues. But Thum says the city, itself, can be a selling point for future recruits, and that includes hiring more minorities.
“We can’t be naive to think that we can just put out a press release and say okay, we’ll get a diverse workforce. Because we asked for it, that’s not how it typically works. So we need to look at ways to partner with the community, partner with different groups to raise people up within respective communities to say, okay, I want to be in law enforcement,” Thum said.
Thum has been a very public face within law enforcement in addressing social justice issues. And he says those conversations will continue when he becomes police chief.
“I think I have always been a person very in-tune with the community and I want to keep that and really move forward and work on the great reputation and trust that we’ve built in the community,” Thum said.
Thum says he’d also like to expand the police department’s social media footprint. But he adds that face-to-face contact between officers and the community is far more important than online posts.
Thum’s first day as chief will be July 26th.