Simplified: The rate of crime is relatively flat (and in some cases, decreasing) in Sioux Falls, but Police Chief Jon Thum says that doesn't mean cops' jobs are getting easier.
Why it matters
- Thum told reporters Tuesday that crimes are becoming more "complicated" and while the overall number of calls for service has been relatively flat the last several years, each call police respond to is taking more officers and more time to complete.
- Though both the population of Sioux Falls and the number of people in the police department has been increasing in recent years, the number of reported crimes has been steady. Rates of homicide, rape, domestic assault, robberies and burglaries were all down from last year.
- Mayor Paul TenHaken also touted increased collaboration between law enforcement agencies both in the region and statewide, something echoed by Sheriff Mike Milstead, who noted that historically hasn't always been the case.
"We now work together under one roof more than we've ever done," Milstead said.
Tell me more about the trends
The stats shared Tuesday looked at January through August this year compared to the same time frame the previous three years.
- Since 2020, the city has stayed pretty consistent at about 86,000 overall calls for service.
- Homicides have remained flat after a spike in 2020.
- The city has seen about 50 more aggravated assaults than this time last year, though there's a slight dip in domestic assault calls.
- The number of rape cases dropped quite a bit last year – down to 58 compared to 86 in 2021 – followed by another slight tick down this year to 49.
- Robberies are also down slightly year-over-year.
- Property crime overall is flat, with the exception of stolen vehicles, which is up by nearly 100 calls from this time last year.
- Drug seizures are relatively flat with the exception of a large uptick in cocaine, which Thum said can be traced to some large busts this year.
- The city is also seeing fewer overdoses, fewer uses of Narcan and fewer overdose deaths.
Another troubling statistic – albeit not a crime – was an increase in suicides. The city has seen 26 suicides by the end of August, compared to 22 in all of last year.
"I just want to remind the community that there's a lot of resources out there," TenHaken said, noting the 988 hotline.
But what's making the crimes more complicated?
In short, Thum said it just takes more officers and more time to respond to a situation now than in the past.
- That could be everything from the time it takes to drive around town to the time it takes to investigate a scene.
Thum gave the example of a DUI arrest.
"We used to be able to get an arrest, get him in and out of jail sometimes within an hour," Thum said. "Now, with telephonic search warrants and evidence preservation and things that need to take place – that can take hours to get that call done."
What happens next?
The Sioux Falls Police Department gives these briefings twice per year. We'll see early next year if the trends continue throughout 2023.