Simplified: Sioux Falls saw less violent crime (homicide, assault) in 2021 compared to the year prior, but the drug seizures are up dramatically.
Why it matters
- The number of crimes is increasing, but the rate of crime – i.e. how much crime is happening per person – actually decreased in 2021 from 2020.
- To put some hard numbers on it: For every 1,000 people in Sioux Falls, there were 5.91 violent crimes last year. In 2020, that number was 6.55.
- What's making up for the dip in violent crime? Drugs. The police department seized record amounts of fentanyl and cocaine, as well as near-record amounts of methamphetamine. At the same time, the city saw a record number of overdose deaths at 29.
"At this point, we're holding ground in relation to our population," Chief Jon Thum said of the city's crime rate. "But we want to gain a little ground."
Give me some of the hard stats
Violent crimes including homicide and assault were flat or slightly down from 2020.
- The city saw five homicides in 2021 compared to 13 the year prior. All but one of those homicides have been solved.
Rape cases saw a slight increase in 2021.
Other increases include:
- About a 6 percent increase in burglaries,
- A 19 percent increase in stolen vehicles
When it comes to drugs, police seized:
- Four pounds – more than 2,000 grams – of fentanyl, a 68 percent increase off the previous record seizure of about 1,200 grams in 2018.
- 157 pounds of cocaine, shattering the previous record of four pounds in 2019.
- Nearly 130 pounds of methamphetamine, just shy of the 2019 record of 133 pounds.
Where are these drugs coming from?
Out of state, Thum said, and in many (if not most) cases from other countries including Mexico and China. These places are finding a market for buyers in Sioux Falls, he added.
What else did we learn in Tuesday's crime report?
Chief Jon Thum also gave an update on staffing. The department is short four officers, for a total of 280 either hired or in training.
Police are also looking for the community's help in a couple of ways to decrease crime in 2022:
- First, Thum asks parents to talk to their kids about drugs, specifically fentanyl.
"It looks like a harmless little pill," Thum said. "But it can result in losing your life."
- Second, he asks the community to be diligent about locking their cars and being sure any firearms are removed from vehicles before you go to bed at night.
What happens next?
The police department will continue to send messages to the public promoting locked vehicles and conversations with youth about the dangers of drug use.
The department is also looking to do more work engaging Sioux Falls' youth both as a way to deter them from committing crimes and as a way to potentially grow the pool of potential future police officers.