I found this comment very telling but not surprising from SFPD communications officer, Sam Clemens;

As the public Information officer or PIO, his job is to inform the public, but sometimes that conflicts with police work. Clemens says it’s probably the hardest part of his job.

“I’ve got detectives and police officers that are saying no we don’t want to say that we don’t want that information out because it could jeopardize the investigation, it could jeopardize the case. But if we don’t give out information then people start filling in their own blanks and that’s the challenging part for me is to find where that line is,” Clemens said.

Besides minors committing crimes, Marsy’s Law and HIPAA the police can tell the public quite a bit. I would even argue that the more they tell us the faster crimes are solved.

The easiest way to increase transparency is to make organizational charts, policies, and procedures, yearly reports, crime incidents, traffic stops, or arrests public. Thanks to the internet, it is now easier than ever to share this information with the world. Many agencies are incorporating this already by publishing annual reports that are open to the public and which disclose crime statistics from previous years.

While the SFPD does do some of these things they need to do more;

Why is it that so many police organizations feel that so much of the information they possess is a secret? I am not speaking about investigatory information that will impede the solving of a case, hinder its successful prosecution or leave an innocent person convicted in the press. Nor am I talking about specific protocols that are tactical in nature, even though the amount of knowledge regarding police TIPs known to the public is shocking. Due solely to his love of video games, my 17-year-old son and I can have meaningful and informed conversations on room-clearing tactics and weapon systems. What I am referring to — and what the public wants to know — is why and how police officers and law enforcement executives make their decisions. What are we thinking, and what is driving us? In a world where conspiracy theories abound, and the public has reached a boiling point over the accuracy and misperceptions of police, if we were to “pull back the curtains” and let the fresh, cleansing power of transparency shine in those dark places, we can illuminate any issue with honest and truthful responses. This is transparency in action, and the only way forward is to build and maintain trust with the public. Due to a lack of transparency, that is something we have lost in recent decades.

I’m not sure a lack of transparency culture only exists in the SFPD, that kind of culture comes from the top down and we know what kind of relationship City Hall and Carnegie Town Hall have with transparency.

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.

Please share if you are around SF. The sign was stolen from Terrace Park last week. I’m hoping someone here can help us get it back. I am (Aaron) putting up $100 for information that leads to its retrieval, no questions asked. We all have done dumb stuff in our lives, and I would chalk this theft as dumb stuff. The sign is about 2 feet by 3 feet and has a picture of the Phillips House on it. It should be recognizable. If anyone has any information, please reach out. We just want the sign back where it should be.

You can Message Aaron Skonhovd if you have any leads. He lives close to the park.

I have been aware of this situation for awhile from seeing it on FB, but never realized just how bad it was;

Roach infestations, mold and broken security doors, leading to homeless encampments. Those are just a few of the issues that low-income tenants are facing living in various properties in Sioux Falls owned by Tzadik Management.

Part of the issue is that code enforcement and the health department really doesn’t enforce much of anything unless you are a lowly homeowner;

“We have a pretty good rapport with the regional managers from Tzadik and the property maintenance staff from the city and they seem to address it pretty quickly,” Tobias said.

Yeah, I bet you have a pretty good rapport, which means turn the other cheek. I heard during the pandemic when most city employees were hiding in their basements, few inspections were happening. I have been complaining about the complex/lot at 15th and Cliff for years which consists of several empty buildings with roofs falling in, and two abandoned houses all owned by the same person and the city has done little to nothing. But they did show up in my neighborhood to spray my sidewalk in front of my house for a ¼ inch crack. Git R’ Done!

This is a prime example of the tale of two cities. While we have tax payer incentivized condos and parking ramps going up downtown, we have a crumbling housing system in our core that has been going on since I moved here in 1991. The city leaders and staff just turn the other way. There has also been a rumor circulating that affordable housing in our core is being hoarded and not being rented out or sold for rehabilitation.

When I hear our current elected officials talk about the housing crisis in Sioux Falls and all the fabulous things that are going to do, I know better. I am pretty sure if they can’t figure out a minor roach infestation, they are going to really struggle rebuilding the core.

I encourage people to vote for Brekke, Reistroffer, Ingle and Pam Cole in the upcoming election if they want to see a council that will work on these issues.