CANTON, S.D. (KSFY) - South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley released the 2017 Crime in South Dakota report on Wednesday.
The report was compiled by the Attorney General’s Criminal Statistical Analysis Center (SAC). According to Jackley's office, the SAC's report is, "the most accurate and comprehensive compilation of South Dakota criminal statistics as it reflects the actual arrest and reporting information by South Dakota law enforcement."
South Dakota law enforcement agencies reported a total of 44,265 arrests involving 76,950 offenses in 2017. The more serious crimes included a total of 20,497 arrests and involve 19 murders, 111 sex offenses, nearly 5,000 assaults, about 2,500 larceny and thefts, fraud and more.
Violent crimes went down.The standout statistic was the increase in drug-related arrests. The state reported 8,224. There was also an increase in property-related crime.
Prostitution, kidnapping, arson, pornography/obscene material and solicitation of a minor all decreased. Both sex offenses and forcible rapes were below the 10-year average.
Less serious crimes totaled 23,768 arrests, involving things like DUI, liquor law violations and disorderly conduct.
Lincoln County Sheriff Dennis Johnson says, as the population grows it's expected that crime will increase.
"I remember the days back in the early 2000s, where if we had 15 or 20 people in jail, that seemed like a lot," Johnson said.
Now Lincoln County has 81 inmates in custody and another 25 who are being electronically monitored. Lincoln County doesn't have its own jail and has inmates in seven different jails across South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa.
Johnson has held his post as sheriff since 1999 and there's one issue that he says has been around for awhile.
"Methamphetamine right now, in all the years I've been around is as bad as I've ever seen it," Johnson said.
Attorney General Marty Jackley agrees.
"The big concern that i have is the continued effect that methamphetamine is having in our state," Jackley said. "It does affect violent crime."
And although violent crime dropped in the state in 2017, Johnson said the meth epidemic leads to other problems.
"It carries with it so many other negative secondary effects, burglaries, thefts, assaults, robberies," Johnson said. "A lot of these burglaries and thefts are to obtain money to buy meth."
The state's added 300 certified law enforcement officers since 2007, but lost 26 last year. Jackley said the public and elected city officials around the state have been supportive of police and must continue to be as the state's population increases.
"As some of the different activities of law enforcement require more resources, that support is so important to continue to add the number of certified officers we need in order to keep our streets safe," Jackley said.
As crime rates trend upward, concerns grow about whether South Dakota is a safe place to raise a family.
"Yes there's some crime here but compared to other places it's pretty minimal," Johnson said.
"South Dakota remains one of the safest places to raise a family," Jackley said.
Both Johnson and Jackley said one of the key reasons they've been able to get some of the numbers down is thanks to the proactive approach law enforcement takes across the state to work together to solve issues.
We've included the full report with this story.