Sioux Falls crime rate decreased slightly in 2017

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - Sioux Falls Police announced Friday morning that the crime rate decreased slightly in 2017.

Police say the number of calls for service set another record for the year, with 105,865, which isn't unusual since the population also increased. It's a 2.9 percent call volume increase from 2016. Over the last five years, the crime rate stayed fairly similar.

While the call volume went up, property crime and most violent crime went down. Sioux Falls Police Chief Matt Burns said they've been engaging in community policing and with people on social media.

The only violent crime that went up? Homicide.

"We are engaged in our community and we have a consistent messaging in that respect," Burns said. "One of the things that did go up, that's disconcerting -- is that our homicides did go up to 10 last year."

About half of the homicides were drug-related. Police say they saw about 220 more narcotics violations in 2017 than the year prior.

"When we see a lot of drug use, we're gonna see a lot of other crimes that go along with that," said Ofc. Sam Clemens. "We see this time and time again, we see people that are addicted to drugs and they obviously need more money to be able to feed that addiction and so they turn to crime."

2018 has already seen two homicides as a result of a drug rip, but oddly enough, property crimes were down across the board in 2017. Chief Burns said officers have been working to stop drugs from ever getting on the streets before it results in some of those often-related crimes.

"Our drug task force members are working hard every day to try to build cases against those drug trafficking organizations and pick those folks off at ever higher levels on the chain," Burns said. "But there's lots of efforts just every day -- traffic efforts on the streets for patrol officers -- we're finding drugs, we're finding stolen weapons."

Some of the amounts of the seizures of drugs were down in 2017, but Clemens said you shouldn't let that fool you.

"Essentially what we're doing is this is the amount of drugs that we've found or seized that's not necessarily indicative of the problem," Clemens said. "One or two big drug busts can make a big spike in one year and if you don't have that big drug bust the next year it looks like there's a big drop off."

Burns said police added another member to the drug task force last year. The department is also back to its full strength, after some recent pension changes and retirements. The officer has its full 256 sworn officers and recently was approved by the city council and through police grants to hire seven additional officers this year.

The full PDF of last year's crime statistics is attached to this story.

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