Editor's note: This story is part of a series of stories leading up to the April 12 election. Follow the "2022 City Election" tag for more.
Simplified: Sioux Falls Simplified asked all 10 City Council candidates the same question about crime and mental health needs. Here's what they had to say. (Candidates are listed in ballot order.)
Let's talk crime, mental health
Question: As the city grows, crime is increasing. What’s also increasing is the need for mental health and addiction services. As a city councilor, what investments do you want to see the city make to ensure public safety and public health?
Sarah Cole (At-Large A)
Cole noted the shortage of mental health professionals and the need to educate people in need of where they can go for resources. She also said while it shouldn't be all up to law enforcement to handle these issues, it often does boil down to them.
"It definitely takes a team approach, and it's a complex issue," she said.
Janet Brekke (At-Large A)
Brekke wants to take a compartmentalized approach of looking issue-by-issue to address unique needs.
She also notes when it comes to mental health and addiction needs, there's a segment of the population that's fallen through the cracks.
"It's the government's job to take care of them," she said.
Bobbi Andera (At-Large A)
Andera wants to see more neighborhood watch groups and people keeping an eye on crime-related activities. She's also a proponent of the broken windows theory of policing.
With mental health needs, Andera supports The Link and says the city can't turn a blind eye to suffering.
"But we also need to determine those who are suffering and those who are playing us for getting a quick handout," she said.
Pam Cole (At-Large B)
Cole wants to see the Sioux Falls Police Department accredited at the national level, as well as more officers and social workers involved with the department.
She also wants to look at officer training to make sure they're prepared to deal with mental health crises.
Rich Merkouris (At-Large B)
Merkouris said he wants to see the city "keeping our foot on the accelerator" of supporting law enforcement.
"We’re expecting our law enforcement right now to solve every problem," he said. "There’s not a human alive that could solve each problem we expect law enforcement to solve."
He also wants to see more early intervention related to mental health and addictions.
Cody Ingle (Southeast District)
Ingle wants to encourage community policing and find innovative strategies within the police department.
He cited The Link and Avera Behavioral, and he added the continued need for the city to partner with hospitals and nonprofits to get services to those who need them.
David Barranco (Southeast District)
As the city sees an "enormous" amount of drug-driven crime, Barranco wants to see caution around legal marijuana discussions.
"We have to have our eyes wide open and make sure that we are not allowing criminal gangs, be they domestic or international, get a foothold here," he said.
On the mental health side, he'd like to see more emphasis on suicide prevention.
Jim Burzynski (Central District)
Crime increases when basic needs aren't met, Burzynski said. He wants to see the city invest more in social services.
"I think we should have embedded within the police department people who are specially trained to bring social services out on calls," he said.
Emmett Reistroffer (Central District)
Reistroffer wants to see the department accredited, and he wants to separate public safety from public health.
"I've long been an advocate for ending disastrous drug war policies ... Once you give someone a criminal record for drug use, they are now stuck in a cycle of crime/addiction/poverty probably for the rest of their lives," he said.
Curt Soehl (Central District)
Soehl noted some of the steps the city is taking to help, in supporting The Link and giving money to the Avera Behavioral addition.
"It's starting to help get people to the right place for the right treatment," he said.
He also said the city has a really good police force, saying every police chief has elevated the department and brought new ideas.