Imagine my surprise when I found this Op Ed by the Mayor in the Argus today. I can’t remember the last time he wrote an Op Ed in the Argus (or should we say one of his minions). I suspect there has been some push back by VIPs in the community about crime prevention;
Our per-capita violent crime rates have been largely flat for the past decade, and that is true again for 2022.
While this is true when you compare to population growth, the crimes have become more violent and drug related. I’m not putting this entirely on PTH, even though he has had 4 years to do something about it. The past two police chiefs essentially hid in their offices doing little to address the drug related crimes. Chief Thum has decided to tackle it with 1,000 times more transparency than the last couple of guys but he does need the mayor, his boss, to step up.
The Sioux 52 Mentoring Initiative was set up to intentionally begin addressing challenges we were seeing with juvenile crime.
I commend this program. Mentoring is essential to help keep youth out of trouble. After winning re-election PTH handed the program over to the HelpLine Center. I’m fine with that except when an elected official starts an initiative they need to stick with even after leaving office. It’s one thing to applaud mentoring programs but on the other hand turn them over to a private entity.
Crime largely has to do with economic status. I don’t believe middle class and lower middle class individuals in Sioux Falls ever fully recovered from the 2008 recession in which wages were frozen for several years. While businesses complain they can’t find workers and can’t afford to pay more, the problem is they never kept up to begin with, wages were stagnant for over a decade while the cost of housing has skyrocketed. The math just doesn’t add up.
It’s the tale of two cities. Over the summer I have decided to ride my bike through neighborhoods (logging almost 3,000 miles since last November) and came to the conclusion that 18th street (west to east) is the dividing line. The further South you go the better the residential neighborhoods, the further North, not so much. While there are pockets like extreme NE and NW for the most part the city is divided in economic status, infrastructure upgrades and housing.
When Janet Brekke was on the council she pushed hard for a pilot program to fix up some of these neighborhoods which would have required a heavy lift from the city when it comes to infrastructure. The solution the city offered was slab on grade tract homes between Brandon and Washington HS. Hardly what Brekke was envisioning. If we don’t address building density in our core for affordable housing in this community ASAP I’m afraid crime is only going to get worse.
Fighting crime means fighting for a more sustainable economy in Sioux Falls, FOR EVERYONE! As that line on 18th street gets wider crime is only going to rise.