SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Homicides and aggravated assaults are down in Sioux Falls this year compared to the same point last year, but drug numbers have risen considerably.
The amount of fentanyl seized so far in 2021 dwarfs what was seized in 2020: 2,015 grams compared to 308 grams. It’s the same with methamphetamine: 125 pounds seized so far this year compared to 64 pounds in 2020.
“We are on pace for record overdose deaths despite record amounts of seizures, despite record amounts of us being involved and trying to put more effort into it,” Sioux Falls Police Chief Jon Thum said. “Deaths are on the rise, and we will have a record, more than likely a record amount of deaths this year due to overdose.”
The numbers come from the City of Sioux Falls. These figures are not just numbers, however; they’re people.
“There’s nothing quite like telling the mother or father of a young person that they’re no longer with us due to a drug overdose,” Thum said.
“Our residents, when I talk with people in the community, there’s really two things that they often talk about as non-negotiable expectations of their government,” Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken said. “One is their infrastructure, their roads, their water, their sewer. But the second is public safety.”
Overdoses, use of Narcan and deaths are all up this year through October when compared to the first ten months of 2020. Overdose deaths have jumped more than 62%. Thum highlighted a “community component” on Monday.
“This is where community partners, family members identify issues that are out there and act early to intercede and make sure that we see these deaths go down,” Thum said.
The police chief spoke to a particular subset of the community on Monday.
“I think this is where I implore young people and who may be listening to this and people in general,” Thum said. “If you’re thinking about using these types of narcotics, I want you to think and visualize your parents finding out that maybe you’ve overdosed and passed away.”
According to nurse manager Madeline Miller of The Link in Sioux Falls, the facility had received 1,920 visits since opening on June 1; among these are 800 different people served. The Link helps connect people with resources for substance abuse or mental health care.