Public Safety Facility needs to be a joint effort

This is a guest post by Sioux Falls City Councilor Pat Starr. I agree with Pat that we should NOT be paying for this entire project by ourselves. Our Fire and Police chiefs should be working with the finance department on how we can save money and build partnerships. I think ALL department directors should be looking at ways to be more fiscally responsible.

Emergency preparation and response are fundamental responsibilities of government. These are always at the top of the planning list when we discuss budgets and people.

Sioux Falls has a public safety need. It’s a big one. The projection is a $30 million dollar bond issue. The problem here is, it is planned to be a $30 million bond issue with the citizens of Sioux Falls on the hook for it.

The City needs to provide an adequate training facility for its Police and Fire Departments. The need is real. Current facilities are substandard and the departments have outgrown them.

Now, this is where the discussion begins. We know the need. The Sioux Falls Police and Fire departments have put forth a plan for addressing their needs.

Keep this in mind, their needs. The vision needs to be bigger. Sioux Falls is the regional leader in business and entertainment. We need to be the leader in public safety as well.

As we review plans for bonding and facilities, we must consider the needs of our region and include them.

Sioux Falls does not have our only emergency responders. We must consider how we can build a regional facility to train local, county, state and federal safety personnel. Look around the Sioux Falls area. If there is a major emergency in our area, don’t you want highly trained responders?

There are many hard working public servants in addition to Sioux Falls Police and Fire including:

1. Minnehaha and Lincoln County Sheriffs and Deputies

2. SD Highway Patrol

3. Game Fish and Parks Officers

4. SD Department of Criminal Investigation

5. SD Penitentiary Officers

6. FBI

7. US Federal Marshal Service

8. TSA – airport security

9. Homeland Security

10. Sioux Falls ambulance

11. Regional community ambulance crews

12. Regional partner fire departments

13. Regional partner community based law enforcement

14.    Civil Air Patrol

I am sure everyone can add to the list – but the bottom line is, all levels of public safety personnel need state of the art training to protect the citizens of Sioux Falls and the region.

This is not a vanity bonding project as so many of our recent bonding projects we have been in Sioux Falls. This is public safety.

Training all levels of our emergency responders does not stop at our city limits. We must have our responders knowing how to work with their regional partners. There must be regional cooperative agreements so all responders receive the training that keeps us safe.

The funding must come from all levels of government. The citizens of Sioux Falls cannot be the sole funding source for this extremely important regional project.

There must be a search for and securing of state and federal grants.

I encourage you to become involved. This plan will happen quickly and will be decided by the end of 2019.

$30 million is asking too much for the handful of the people of Sioux Falls, with promises to let other responders use. Simple statements don’t protect us. We need all regional agencies to be fully trained for them and for us. This project is too big for just Sioux Falls to own and control.


#1 MK on 08.28.19 at 6:49 pm

Nice political puffery post. Now you can seem fiscally responsible.

Both SFPD and SFFR have previously discussed a joint facility with countless agencies. There is either no interest or no funding. (Most agencies you listed are volunteer groups with practically no budget)

Would the SF City council approve capital dollars for a facility to be built that SF didn’t own, outside of its jurisdiction, that was controlled by another city? No.
But you expect other city’s to do so?

There are no grants available that can be used for new buildings/facilities. (Only personnel and equipment). Shouldn’t you already know this?

Where were these joint funding ideas when money was being given away hand over fist for tennis courts, swimming pools, and mixed used fiascoes?

#2 Fluff McFluffin on 08.28.19 at 6:51 pm

Nope. That is not a good idea. These other entities will not put forth enough money to make an impact. They will contribute to the one time build but how about long term maintenance, especially from the greater use the facility would see. They will not respect a facility that is not theirs. That will be on the City’s doorstep. The local agencies would then have to schedule around the outside agencies and give them say in the city’s facility; also a bad idea.

#3 Bonds on 08.28.19 at 8:41 pm

With an outstanding petition drive involving bonding there would be ‘a story’ attached to the sale of any bonds.

The petition drive could potentially last 6 months (Feb. 2020).

#4 LJL on 08.28.19 at 9:33 pm

You forgot to list the NSA, CIA, Darpa, KGB, and the Navy Seals.

I cant get a read if your super naive or or just not a bright bulb.

#5 D@ily Spin on 08.28.19 at 9:54 pm

What happened in New Orleans after Katrina? Emergency personnel left to take care of their families. The Fed’s didn’t show up for months. Getting ready for an emergency sounds good but realize it will mostly be every person for themselves. Formal training is good for a mediocre tornado sideswipe. However, when Yellowstone blows, grab your bug out bag and rations. Head north or south perpendicular with the winds and keep going 500 miles or more. Police and fire left well ahead of you and might be important at the new settlement.

#6 Blasphemo on 08.28.19 at 10:50 pm

MK: “Nice political puffery post. Now you can seem fiscally responsible.” Oh. Dale Carnegie course graduate, are ya’? Councilor Pat Starr does not exactly have a record as a spendthrift. “Most agencies you listed are volunteer groups with practically no budget”. Out of a list of 14 agency examples listed, #1-#10 inclusive are “volunteer groups”??? Are you kidding me?!!

#7 Build it now on 08.29.19 at 12:20 am

His plan ignores many practical scheduling and maintenance realities. SFFR and SFPD’s 1st responsibility is to be trained & ready for the citizens of SF. How many times do these regional agencies respond to emergencies in SF? It is almost always the other way around. Get real.

#8 One trained from a center on 08.29.19 at 1:46 am

I think the Bunker Ramp would make a great training center. It might slow-up traffic downtown, but it would be awfully entertaining – especially during the noon hour – and its proximity to the former Copper Lounge would make its usefulness honestly fitting and tragically honest.

#9 l3wis on 08.29.19 at 8:18 am

I find it funny that we would need a new training center for our firefighters. I think they are highly trained now and do a fantastic job. In fact, around 5% of what they do is actually related to fires, rescues and other hazardous duties. The remainder of their time is spent on training and basically subsidizing the for profit ambulance service (the SFFD usually shows up before them and basically gets the emergency procedures started, the FOR-PROFIT ambulance basically just picks the person up for a ride). As for the police needing a training center, not sure when they will find the time to train . . .

#10 Blah blah blah on 08.29.19 at 8:23 am

I think the comments here have answered or negated most of Mr. Starr’s concerns.

My question is: If you had these concerns, why not ask them during the budget meetings?

Seems like posting here instead is a way to try to stir up dissent for the project without giving the department chiefs a chance to respond – which I’m sure they would have been able to answer in the meetings.

Why don’t you email the police and fire chief your concerns and post their answers here?

#11 good grief on 08.29.19 at 8:35 am

The city should be sharing the cost of this facility with the entire region. Pat is right to demand a consideration of the option. The traffic deaths recently west of Sioux Falls brought together several emergency organizations. We already know the state is not using the same emergency radio systems, what else are they not working together on?

#12 l3wis on 08.29.19 at 8:36 am

Pat did ask most of this stuff during the presentation Chief Burns and Chief (Canton Resident) Goodroad did on the safety center last month. Pat also asked Goodroad several questions during the budget hearing. Goodroad couldn’t answer many of the questions during the hearing BUT did get back to Pat on some of them later. So my question is, why can’t a department head like Goodroad (or any department head for that matter) answer basic questions about finance at their budget hearings?

#13 Timbuktu on 08.30.19 at 7:30 pm

Patrick Starr the fluff master strikes again. I think most citizens get his game now.

#14 Two Directors Without Answers on 09.01.19 at 1:50 pm

I have to wonder if Blah blah blah actually watches the Council’s annual budget hearings.

After many years of observing the Council’s budget hearings, I have to say I was very surprised at some of the questions that Burns and Goodroad could not answer.

I had to ask myself……is it because they could not, or was it because they would not!