Mayor’s Column: The Long Game in Public Safety

By Mayor Paul TenHaken
February 27, 2020

Mayor TenHakenPeople will occasionally ask me if Sioux Falls is still a safe community, and the answer is always “yes.” Year after year, Sioux Falls’ population has grown steadily as more and more people are drawn to Sioux Falls for career opportunities and our incredible quality of life. During this past year, our crime rate has maintained a low rate—especially when compared to other large cities. 

While we remain a safe city, illegal drug use continues to be the primary driver of criminal activity. Sioux Falls is in the midst of a serious battle against meth and other drug use. As a community, the more we impact addiction challenges, the greater our impact is in deterring crime in our city, lifting families out of poverty, and preventing child neglect.

At the City, we continue to make efforts to crack down on criminal activity, but we are also addressing the underlying issues that lead to criminal activity. Our goal is to turn people’s lives around with a hope of deterring crime for today as well as the decades ahead of us. This means we are tackling drugs with more enforcement on distribution, and with improved treatment for those battling addiction. 

Since I took office, we have expanded our team of police officers investigating drug dealers by adding an additional narcotics sergeant as well as a new Narcotics Crime Unit. These officers are focused on crime tips from members of the public to help put drug dealers out of business.

We continue to make strides toward opening the area’s first triage center to provide an alternative treatment path than jail or hospitals for addicts in the midst of a crisis. Just recently we also dedicated an officer with a social work background to work with those struggling with mental illness to help them in times of need. This is a vulnerable population we want to protect from doing harm to themselves as well as others.

Recently, a collaboration in the city called Sioux 52 was also launched to mentor the youth and adults of the Sioux Falls region. Sioux 52 is recruiting more mentors to participate in existing programs. You can become a mentor/guide and help someone stay on a positive path in their life. 

Since 2016, 21 additional officers have been added to the police force, and an additional $7 million has been added to their budget. Much of the money has been used for training so our police force is at the forefront of new techniques and best practices. This year we will also make a major investment in training with the construction of a new Public Safety Training Center for our police and fire personnel.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Chief Matt Burns and our entire police force, we are here to serve and protect everyone as part of One Sioux Falls. We live in a great community, and we are working hard to make it better and safer each and every day.

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