Entries Tagged 'SFPD' ↓

Panhandling in Sioux Falls is almost at a Crisis Stage

While our Mayor is frosting cakes with his daughter on FB and making bets on college basketball, panhandling in Sioux Falls has become out of control.

As I often mention on this site, the city charter is pretty clear, the city council handles policy and the mayor runs the city, that means he is in charge of the police department and the city council doesn’t have the authority to tell them how to handle crime in our city. However, they can create policy and ordinances that the police would have to enforce.

Over the past couple of years panhandling has been getting worse. This year was the first year in Sioux Falls I saw them ALL YEAR LONG. I have even seen them on days when it was below zero. Their two favorite spots are East 10th and 14th Street on Cliff Avenue. But I have seen them downtown for the first time in over 20 years. It is at a crisis stage and it seems our mayor, our city council, our county commission and the police department are playing a game of whack a mole instead of a permanent fix to the problem.

While it is well within panhandlers 1st Amendment rights to ask for money on a street corner, there are limitations. They cannot walk into traffic or impede traffic. But it also goes for vehicle operators. You shouldn’t be handing money out of the window of your car while idling in traffic.

I think there are some simple solutions we can start with that would have an impact right away;

• Stop giving violations to the panhandlers and triage them. I know we are waiting for the Triage Center to open, but we can still help these people now, in fact it would have been a great way to spend some of the Covid stimulus money but our cruise control government had different ideas.

• The homeless shelters need to help them. We partially fund these facilities with tax dollars, if they are NOT helping them to rehabilitate it is time to cut the funding. I’m not concerned if Bill the panhandler accepts JC as his savior, I want him to get sober, get help and stop running in traffic.

• Hourly police patrols breaking them up in troubled areas.

And this is where the city council and county commission would have to do some heavy lifting;

• Instead of fining panhandlers for walking in traffic, we need to have an ordinance that fines vehicle operators for handing money out of the window. The fine should be somewhere between $100-200 and only applies if you are sitting in traffic in a running vehicle and handing the money out of the window. If you pull over and park in a safe place and get out of the vehicle and give money, that would not apply.

• Anytime one of these troubled areas pops up, there should be very visible traffic signage put up that says ‘MONETARY CONTRIBUTIONS FROM MOTOR VEHICLE PROHIBITED. $100 FINE, CITY ORD 000’

The way to fix this problem is not by punishing the panhandlers it is about shutting off the faucet. If you want to help them financially the best thing to do is donate your time or money to one of the shelters in town, the Banquet or even the Triage Center. You are not helping these individuals by handing them beer money from your car, you are creating a very dangerous situation on so many levels.

Mayor TenHaken made a pledge when he was running for mayor, he said he hopes to shut down all the shelters in town because he was going to wipeout homelessness in our community. How is the campaign promise coming along? The city cannot even stream a live video of a public meeting, how can we expect them to fix this problem?

It takes little bites and baby steps, but that isn’t even happening.

Panhandling has gotten so bad over the past couple of years in my neighborhood I have considered putting together a neighborhood security group that will go as a group and break these panhandlers up when the police won’t. It is well within my 1st Amendment rights to ask these people to move along and I have done it several times over the past couple of years without physical threats. I simply explain to them that it is the neighborhood I live in, and don’t want that kind of activity going on there, and when they moan and groan I just take out my phone and tell them that the police will be there shortly. That usually gets them moving. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a simple conversation.

Trust me, I feel for these folks, but by allowing them to continue to beg for beer money doesn’t help us and doesn’t help them, it is f’ing futile!!!!!

I pay taxes and vote for a reason. It’s time our supposed city and county leaders to put on their big kid pants and act.

‘I’m just filling in.’ (H/T JR)

A foot soldier sent me this video of some roaming gun rights dude (who first calls it Sioux Falls, Minnesota) and reveals some interesting rules about carrying weapons in public buildings in South Dakota. As far as I know, he was correct in his assessment, you can’t legally carry into courthouses, schools or the capital building, but all other public buildings are free game. I have often told the city council that Carnegie Hall is a dangerous place because they don’t limit firearms, and as we saw in this video just filmed a few weeks ago, apparently you can bring them into public health facilities.

Oh, and Mr. Filling In security guard . . . WOW!

City of Sioux Falls to hire Police Recruiter

The city is going to add a person to the already crowded HR department and pay them between $63-70K a year to read police officer applications. Since the rules have changed and the city can now train it’s own officers it makes sense to have someone who can recruit and retain officers.

But I have some concerns. First the obvious, while most jobs listed on employment sites for the city pay around $12 an hour (seasonal part-time) I’m curious about paying someone this much especially when starting pay for officers is around $50K a year. Secondly, while the HR department should have someone specializing in this, I hardly think this will take up 40 hours a week. They could easily have another person in the office handling this. Also remember this person is essentially a screener, I’m sure applicants that make it thru the process will be interviewed by the Police Chief before being hired. It would probably be cheaper to hire a consultant to find applicants than having a full-time person. This is how the city has operated for a very long time, throwing pennies to the union minions and big time salaries to mid-management to work from their basements.

The city does need to recruit officers, but seriously, use the overpaid staff you already have in HR.

City of Sioux Falls Tidbits

After an incident over the weekend where SFPOs were caught cussing out suspects, the Chief of Police claims there is nothing to see, move along. As I have been saying for years, further proof we need body cams, but as he said last week, no policy changes. Shocker. They also need some diversity training and paid physical fitness time.

Sales taxes are in the crapper, but no surprise. As about 15% of the workforce in Sioux Falls lost their jobs and nobody was spending any money – we saw this coming. I just hope the budget hearings that start tomorrow prepare for this.

Speaking of money, the city could get up to $41 million in Covid money but Mayor Multi-task doesn’t think we need it. The covid crisis is far from over, and as you noticed, the cases in SD remain on an even keel and are NOT going down. If this continues into the fall and winter, we may need some of that money to combat the crisis further. Nothing wrong with planning ahead, wait, this administration doesn’t know what that means. Let’s just keep the libraries and pools closed, that’s the ticket!The Public Transit board met today but no one really knows what is on the agenda because it wasn’t posted on the agenda page. Of course this is a violation of open meetings laws not having the agenda posted (except in this mysterious zoom document). But they have been violating those rules for a couple of years now, why do anything differently?

The City of Sioux Falls does NOT have the right to limit protesters

Many people have been wondering why you would need to get a permit to protest in Sioux Falls. You do not.

Is it a good idea to meet with the SFPD and give them an idea of what you will be protesting and how many people may show up? Sure it is. It’s a nice gesture but not required.

Remember, the US Constitution and your 1st Amendment right to organize and peacefully protest and assemble trumps any state constitution or city charter. While the city can have such an ordinance, it really wouldn’t stand up in Federal court if challenged.

I may be wrong about this, but I think the ordinance came about to break up the kids hanging out downtown while cruising the loop. It has nothing to do with protesting or your 1st Amendment rights.

I encourage anyone protesting in the future to reach out to the SFPD, but don’t get a permit. Besides the enormous powerful message the BLM movement is sending, our right as citizens to peacefully protest is protected already, with a permit or not, and that message needs to also be sent in these troubling times.

SIOUX FALLS 4TH OF JULY PARADE CANCELLED

Mayor TenHaken announced on FB on Friday that the parade has been cancelled this year and the Falls Park feeding.

While I understand serving food to 5,000 people in Falls Park is not a good way to social distance, I think having a parade outside (where people can distance) would be just fine. In fact in my bike rides downtown over the past couple of weeks, DTSF has been packed with people. The bars and restaurants are at capacity and most people are not social distancing. I really don’t understand why the city is so hesitant to open city buildings, pools and libraries when every other place is full capacity (which they gave permission to do in ordinance). Oh that’s right, it goes back to the hypocrisy thing.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Erickson lights the fake protest fire

It appears that Councilor Erickson is the one that sounded the alarm about the fake FB posts about the buses from Fargo. I will defend Christine on one point, if you see something, say something. This is a common theme when it comes to domestic violence. I will commend her on taking action. But my criticism is NOT in saying something, it is about going thru the proper channels. She should have quietly relayed this info to the SF Police Chief Matt Burns and Sheriff Milstead and let them take action. It is not the job of a city councilor to investigate threats. That is the job of law enforcement.

Defund the Police?

There has been a lot of discussion about ‘defunding’ the police. Where the confusion comes in is that some people think this means getting rid of a police force, not at all, what it means is redirecting some funds that go towards the police force to other programs such triage, drug courts, counseling, etc. I am all for looking at ways to cut operational and personnel costs within the City of Sioux Falls. I have felt for a long time that with advances in technology we should be cutting staff and especially management instead of adding to it. I have also thought that the public sector jobs should have to pay the same for healthcare as private citizens, get the same kind of sick benefits, COLAs and holiday and NO pensions (unless they privately contribute). I have often felt (especially during the covid crisis) that public employees feel like they need to be treated like a special class of people. We still haven’t opened our libraries, even though almost every other sector is open in our community. Why is this? Because there is a lot of arrogance with the administrative staff in our city. But that is a whole other discussion.

I also think the Union needs to do a better job of training officers and needs to be tougher on bad cops. I have argued for a long time that if we hire quality officers (good physical shape, diversity and criminal justice trained) we may have to pay more up front, but our savings would be enormous because we would have less issues with the officers and need fewer. I do think depending on the season, we have too many PO’s in Sioux Falls. This is apparent when you see a group of 5 or 6 standing together at Jazzfest eating hot dogs or the multitude of squad cars parked outside of Avera eating a free lunch there (another program that should end).

I have wondered if cross training the fire fighters to also be PO’s and vice versa while including a public ambulance service would save taxpayers money and give us a more diverse public safety staff in Sioux Falls?

I’m not sure, I am not an expert in this stuff, just throwing ideas out there. But I can tell you that observing our police force in Sioux Falls since 1991, there is certainly room for improvement, not just to improve the community but to improve the officers well being.

The first thing I would do almost immediately is 3 things;

  • Mandatory diversity training for at least 100 hours per officer. They should also be required to pass exams from the training.
  • PAID physical fitness time (The SFFD gets this)
  • Body cameras for every officer

I think these three things would be a good starting point.

Our Brothers and Sisters are Your Brothers and Sisters

I don’t know if I have ever blogged about this before. One of the main reasons is because I am white. I have close relatives that are Asian, Hispanic, Native American and African American. People I love, not because of their heritage but because they are FAMILY.

Does their color matter? Nope.

I may have shared this a few times, but I lived with my father for a few years in a working class suburb of Seattle when I was in 10th and 11th grade in High School. We lived a few miles from the largest Boeing plant in the company and the largest manufacturing plant in the world at the time. The doors on this place were the size of football fields. FOOTBALL FIELDS!

The school I attended was Mariner High. One of the most diverse schools in the region.

Being a small town white farm boy who never saw a ‘colored’ person in my life, except on TV, was eye opening. I had African American friends, Native friends, Asian friends, but it never occurred to me they were any different. They had the same goals, love of life and interests as me. It never was a revelation, it was reality. I also had gay and transgender friends (this was the late 80’s). I also hung out with metal heads, preps, jocks and punk rockers (I actually made a little coin finishing art projects for the football players).

I guess I never understood hatred based on identity. Sure I dislike certain people, but it was never based on their color, religion or sexual preference.

Some people would accuse me of being a liberal because of my beliefs towards others, I’m not a liberal, I’m a human being. Everyone should believe in equality, it is just being a decent and compassionate person.

And while you struggle with your white privilege, never apologize for it, use it to make other lives better. Speak out against injustice. Don’t apologize or be embarrassed, use your privilege to privilege others. We all need to get along and love each other, it is of the highest importance. We are all in this together. Jesus said it best (or someone who claimed to know Jesus);

“Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the LORD delivers them in times of trouble.” – Psalm 41:1

And don’t just think police violence and domination is towards minorities. Over the past year I saw a drunk WHITE man get mauled by a dog while a SFPO kicked him, I saw another WHITE guy get tackled for flipping the bird and yet another WHITE jailed for weeks because he used hyperbole towards the mayor concerning 5G. None of us are immune folks. George Floyd is any of us, remember that.

These injustices affect us all as Americans. The police have become the judge, jury and to often the executioner. This is not their duty, their duty is to maintain peace, and arrest suspects and let a court and jury of peers decide if they are guilty of a crime.

I could point my finger at a lot of people, but today I will only point my finger at you as a citizen. Freedom is FREE, Speak OUT! It is one freedom they will never take from you unless you allow it!

A different Perspective on the Sunday Night protests

I have a dear South DaCola Soldier who lives out of state (but is from here) that frequents the various ‘city’ cams. She decided to take screenshots Sunday night as things unfolded and leaves us with some great commentary;

I watched the 41st street web cam and the Falls cam a lot.  I happened to look at the 41st street web cam Sunday night just as the cops were arriving. It was one cop with his car blocking traffic and I wondered what was going on.  As I watched more cops come and then the protestors.

After reading your page and the comments decided to send the pictures, maybe you are interested in them.

8:59 PM SF time

9 PM SF Time

Now they have turned right and gone down the street by the car dealer. I think that street is Louise.  The cops have 41 st  blocked so they can’t continue down 41 st.

9:16 pm, they are now all on the sidewalk.  9:18 and the cops are gone and so are the most of the protestors/walkers. The last of them went left through the parking lot or maybe it is part of the car dealer on what I think is Louise Ave.

9:23 pm and they are done.

Whoever is in charge of the camera moved it at least three times towards the stores, Menswear and the restaurant, but couldn’t see any people and the person moved the camera back to looking at 41st. Thought it was interesting, I am pretty sure there was a person watching that had control of the camera. (The mayor said later in an radio interview the EOC was watching)

9:09  pm

9:12 pm

9:15 pm  coming to an end.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Erickson tries to redefine ‘Precinct’

In the city council informational meeting today there was a presentation on leasing space for a Southwest Police Report to Work Station. During the meeting Erickson said that this is NOT a police precinct. Here is the best definition I could find on what a police precinct is;

In the United States, a police precinct is a geographical area patrolled by a police force. The term “precinct” may also refer to the main police station for such a geographical area. Practices and cultures of policing often vary considerably from one precinct to another.

She can claim whatever she wants to, to defend the mayor’s hypocrisy during the mayoral campaign, but, if it walks like a duck, it’s duck.