Entries Tagged 'SFPD' ↓

Is the SFPD monitoring public input and commentary?

Last night I heard a rumor that the Sioux Falls Police Department has been monitoring citizens at public input and journalists who may be saying disparaging remarks about the department. At first I was a little amused by the rumor and I asked, “You mean like in the book 1984?” and this person replied, “Pretty much.”

I’m not going accuse the current mayor of concocting such a policy, or even if he is aware (though he probably is). I have a feeling this started under the last administration due to his never ending paranoia about what the media said about him (mostly because he got caught in several lies). I’m guessing the new Chief, Matt Burns was probably directed by him to start watching people.

At this point I only know about a handful of people who actively being ‘watched’ for what they say or do. Obviously city officials read my blog, I have no doubt about it, and while I am not bothered by it, I am concerned about other private citizens being monitored for practicing their 1st Amendment rights. It is unconstitutional and if the rumor turns out to be true, it could set the city up for a very unfavorable constitutional lawsuit especially if entities like the ACLU and NCAC (National Coalition Against Censorship) get involved.

My hope is that this has just happened randomly and is not an ongoing procedure. We have a lot of issues in our community when dealing with crime, especially Meth addiction and Human Trafficking. I think the SFPD needs to focus on those problems and NOT worry about what the citizenry is saying about them.

• On a different note, I did hear that the SFPD will get body cameras this year.

• There was also over 100 code enforcement letters sent to the Norton Acres section of Sioux Falls. They were annexed in decades ago but have NO curb or gutter. It’s a mix and match of different homes and mobile homes. The code enforcement office was trying to make the neighborhood adhere to standards that neighborhoods within the city proper adhere to. My first suggestion before cracking down on the homeowners in that neighborhood would be for the city to fix the roads and update the street lighting. I guess the mass code enforcement blanketing has been called off for now.

SFPD Keeps Beer Garden safe at JazzFest

And they stayed there most of the night, like myself.

Sioux Falls Police ‘Report to Work’ stations will be called P.R.E.C.I.N.C.T.S but they are NOT Precincts

The city of Sioux Falls has come up with a clever name for these stations, P.R.E.C.I.N.C.T.S, short for Police REquired Check IN Community Time Stamps. But the Police Chief and Mayor want us to know they are NOT precincts;

Mayor Paul TenHaken is quick to emphasize that these report-to-work stations are not police precincts, which he opposed in the mayoral race earlier this year.  Instead, officers would report to an office at a busy area of the city and receive their daily briefing before heading off on their beat.

Remember, the city doesn’t want you to confuse P.R.E.C.I.N.C.T.S with Precincts. They are different.

Jon Michael’s Forum interviews Omaha Police Captain

Listen HERE.

Public Affairs Director Jon Michaels (since 1977) talks with Omaha Police Captain Ken Kanger about how Omaha has been able to deconstruct gang violence. Omaha is just 160 miles south of Sioux Falls on I-29. Captain Kanger is in charge of Omaha’s Criminal Investigation Bureau, Special Operations Inspection with the gang, intelligence and narcotics unit.

This is an awesome listen, and I encourage Police Chief Burns to reach out to Kanger. He talks about using uniform officers to talk to the kids in the trouble neighborhoods and get them to trust the police and using undercover officers and vehicles to crack down on dealers and gangs.

Mayor TenHaken proposes a Narcotics Crime Unit

I’m going to take a ‘wait and see’ approach to Paul’s plan. Not because I have been light on him lately, but I’m not sure what it all entails. I will say though I have little confidence in Chief Burns and I would have replaced him, also I hope this doesn’t turn into putting away small time users (who really need treatment more than anything.)

Good Luck.

Should we tie Police Precincts in with Firestations and Public Ambulance?

While Jolene Loetsher got beat up in the mayoral campaign over police precincts, I didn’t think the idea itself was bad. They are used across the state and in the 2nd largest city in SD, Rapid City.

Where the idea went off the tracks was putting the precincts in community centers. While Jolene argued the buildings already exist and could save us money by retrofitting them, I felt it was the wrong place.

I think the precincts should be put in the fire stations which are already safe zones and built like fortresses throughout the city. The other benefit would be while retrofitting the locations for precincts, you could add public ambulances to the fire stations and have the first responders under one roof.

If we are going to spend the money to get the Fire Department ALS (Advanced Life Support) trained, we might as well go whole hog and set a new public safety network. At the end of the day, it will help to reduce crime as well and make us a safer and healthier community.

What a concept?

Does the SFPD profile, or is it more of a symptom of who is reporting?

I will admit, as a middle-aged white dude, I have no idea if the SFPD profiles. I have heard stories before, but just rumors. One of my Lakota friends used to tell me whenever he gets pulled over by the police it is for DWI. I said, “What?” He replied, “Driving While Indian.”

This past Sunday though I saw something that makes me suspect that the profiling is shared between who is reporting it, and how the officer reacts. Shortly I will tell you about an incident I saw on Sunday afternoon, but a short introduction first.

If you have ever been downtown you will notice a bike and pedestrian crosswalk on 6th street between Phillips Avenue and Raven. The sidewalk/bike trail continues South right in front of Raven’s front door, than goes past an open amphitheater and across a pedestrian bridge bought and paid for by taxpayers. The sidewalk in front of Raven’s, IMO, is quasi-public.

This Sunday after enjoying some brunch at my new favorite restaurant, The Blarney Stone, I rode my bike to Falls Park. It was packed, if I had to guess there was about 200 people down there. The water was high due to the snow melt and many adults and children were walking very close to the rushing water. As I have mentioned in the past, you can’t legislate ignorance, but what surprised me the most was there wasn’t one single person from the Parks Department, Fire Department or Police Department monitoring the visitors and reminding them to stay away from the water. There wasn’t even any temporary fencing.

But hey, I get it. The SFPD is short staffed and they have better things to do, or so I thought.

I proceeded to 6th street on the bike trail and crossed the bridge going towards Raven. As I was crossing the bridge I saw a cop car speed past and pull into Raven’s parking lot. As I started to ride past the entrance I saw a police officer talking to what appeared to me as a wedding party taking photos in front of the building. Mind you, it was obvious they were there to take pictures, the entire family, about a dozen of them and two photographers were dressed in their wedding best with the wedding party in tuxes. They also didn’t appear to be touching anything on the building, just standing in front using the quartzite walls as a backdrop. They were having an engaged conversation with the officer, who stood there and monitored the situation. Now most would wonder why a PO would have to monitor this. It occurred to me that someone at Raven must have saw them on a security camera and called it in. I know, probably still scratching your head why anyone would think a wedding party not disturbing the property taking photos would cause such an alarm. Than I wondered if it had anything to do with these very nicely dressed people (I don’t even have a wardrobe that nice) being African refugees (I could overhear them speaking in their native language).

First off, if makes you wonder if the person who called this in was profiling, but what disturbed me even more as I sat and watched this was the officer stayed there while they continued to snap photos. You could tell by the quite loud conversation that the wedding party seemed either confused or upset that an officer would respond to this situation.

So when I hear our officers are understaffed, all I have to point to is an officer monitoring an obvious photo session while hundreds of people are standing dangerously close to the falls and wonder if they really are understaffed or if they are profiling?

Not sure. But it didn’t look good.

Loetscher proposes SFPD uses precinct systems

While Jolene’s idea is a good one, I would go whole hog on it instead of baby steps.

Jolene proposes putting in 5 precincts at the community centers. As I understand it these centers are already to crowded with activities.

I would tweak the plan by putting the precincts at the Fire Stations and expand them to provide public ambulance service. You would kill two birds with one stone and you would put public safety under one roof instead of multiple roofs.

Is Sioux Falls city government bailing on changing Downtown noise ordinance?

A great view, of a nightclub roof.

After several citizens showed up last week to ask the city to AT LEAST do a study of decibel levels downtown, it seems not much is happening, except more complaints.

Common sense would tell you if you have mixed use with commercial (a nightclub) next to residential, the one producing more decibels would get precedent, NOPE. The quieter use is used instead of a fair balance between the two uses.

As we all know, ambient noise downtown alone is probably between 58-60 decibels. Wouldn’t a study by the PD and Health Department using the ‘L’ scale be worth it? The scale takes a 10 minute reading of the lows and highs of decibels and gives a 90% average reading. Makes sense.

I think 10-20 locations should be picked downtown to do the reading, and each location should take readings every 2-4 hours, Monday-Sunday. Once those readings come in, we could figure out an average at those different times for downtown.

I think the city just ‘telling us’ what is acceptable is unacceptable until we really know what is reality. Maybe 55 is a good place to be, but until we know what the averages are, we don’t know where the starting point is.

I also think some building codes and zoning needs to be changed for residential units. Even if we didn’t have a nightclub next door to a residential unit – traffic, trains, airplanes, etc., are probably louder than what current code is.

Let’s face it, if we are going to continue to develop housing downtown and other development like hotels and commercial we are going to have to come to grips with the fact we have turned downtown into a bustling entertainment district. We MUST make changes NOW while we are still growing, otherwise we are going to have a code enforcement nightmare down the road as downtown gets more dense.

City to spread their version of ‘Propaganda’ about Downtown noise ordinances

I got a reminder this weekend from a fellow city hall watcher that the city already had a discussion about noise ordinances . . . 10 years ago! I remember the discussion, it involved outdoor music at Stogeez and the time that music needs to stop.

Well, my response is that we need to revisit the topic, especially with the enormous growth of downtown over the past 10 years. I don’t think it is unreasonable to maintain a 70 decibel level during the day and 65 at night. Even without entertainment facilities downtown, the ambient noise downtown during the day hovers in that 68-70 area.

I can’t wait to hear the city’s argument on this;

One important fact the public should understand is that all of downtown is zoned to allow residential uses. The zoning for downtown also allows for commercial, retail, and a mix of other uses, which creates the unique atmosphere we all expect from a downtown environment. No changes have been made to zoning or the noise ordinance as a result of any new residential units in downtown.

If that is the case, how is a downtown nightclub able to operate for 6 years with NO intervention until residential units are built next door with an easement to hang patios over the roof of the nightclub?

It is no surprise to me that the city will fight any changes. Why? The building department once again screwed up and authorized something that should have NOT been authorized without a thorough discussion with the neighbors.