Entries Tagged 'SFPD' ↓

Police transparency would help solve crimes faster in Sioux Falls

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.

UPDATE: Mayor TenHaken & Sheriff Milstead turn public safety presser into anti IM 27 campaign

UPDATE: There was some more debunking last night of what the mayor said;

TenHaken isn’t sold on the idea that revenues from marijuana legalization are a tremendous boon to a community.

“Any revenue that is realized is used to deal with the unintended consequences, treatment issues, crime issues, that result as a result of legalization,” TenHaken said.

Shweich argues against that.

“If it were the case that in any of these legalization states that the cost of the policy was greater than the revenue then why haven’t we seen any state repeal this policy?” Schweich said.

In fact, both Lincoln and Minnehaha County along with the City of Sioux Falls and neighboring towns could see millions in tax revenue that could be directed at education, roads and criminal justice.

There was a lot of bull being thrown at the public safety presser yesterday.

VIDEO LINK

Besides Sheriff Milstead rants about the Southern border and immigrants they started attacking IM 27 claiming that cannabis legalization would lead to more violence, hurt children and families. Alcohol, Meth, Opioids, Poverty (low wage jobs) and Video Lottery do a pretty good job of that already.

But none of that was mentioned – only the evil weed.

“Individuals go to purchase marijuana, and they get drug-ripped,” Milstead said. “And, so, that’s why some of the people buying marijuana are carrying guns, and that’s why some people are selling marijuana are carrying guns. And, so, there’s a lot of black market marijuana dealings that go on in our community, and some of them result in violence. Some of them result with individuals joining gangs, and, so, I certainly would keep marijuana in that top three of what drugs we’re encountering and dealing with on a regular basis, sometimes with people that are armed and posing a danger to our community.”

They claimed the black market would thrive if Rec MJ became legal. Sure. Just like it is now. It would only be legal to purchase by those who are 21 and older, so yes, teenagers are going to have to find an illegal way to use, just like they have been doing for decades with alcohol and tobacco. The crimes committed because of the illegal trade of MJ are already here, they won’t suddenly disappear if Rec passes.

And whose job is it to stop the black market drug sales? The very people who want to blame a boogey man from Mexico with a truckload of pot and illegal guns, our Police and Sheriff Departments.

It was disappointing that they offered NO solutions to the current illicit drug problems we already have.

The reporter, John Gaskins, who wrote the DNN article asked Milstead at the press conference that he mentioned drug dealers and criminals stealing guns out of unlocked cars and wondered if Milstead would support fining people whose guns are stolen and used in crimes. Milstead said that was up to the legislature (passing the buck once again) and said he would not be inclined to punish LEGAL gun owners. But when a legal vehicle owner does something irresponsible with their vehicle they get a fine.

In fact, since our Legislature and Governor signed an open carry law in our state, gun violence has skyrocketed in Sioux Falls. Not sure if there is a correlation, but it is hardly a coincidence.

When it comes to the black market drug trade and the violence associated with it in our state, our police and deputies could take a multi-faceted approach to prevention, but instead they decided to focus on a country that doesn’t border our state and a drug that no one has ever overdosed on. They also failed to mention that legal MJ sales could be taxed very heavily and assist law enforcement with funding to prevent violence and illegal drug trade. Milstead made a claim that taxation would not offset the legal issues with Rec MJ, that claim, about Colorado Springs was debunked by DNN;

In July 2022, Suthers told a Colorado TV station that he’s “vehemently opposed” to recreational marijuana sales in Colorado Springs. Suthers’ office did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment.

“When we legalized recreational marijuana in the state, I remember the promises,” Suthers told the station. “Number one: there’ll be all kinds of money for schools, roads, all that kind of stuff. But all the money we’ve taken in barely pays for the regulation of marijuana and it doesn’t pay for the social problems.”

In response to this, Anthony Carlson, a campaign manager for Your Choice Colorado Springs, told The Center Square — an American conservative news website that features reporting on state and local government — that Suthers “is sticking his head in the sand and talking as if adult-use recreational cannabis isn’t already 100% legal to possess and consume in Colorado Springs. Right now, people are traveling to nearby communities, purchasing their cannabis, and bringing it right back home to use.”

“Recreational cannabis is already here, we just don’t reap the benefits of the tax revenue that comes with it,” he added.

Our illegal drug trade problems won’t be solved after Rec MJ is legalized in the state, but who is solving them now?

Maybe the Sioux Falls Police Department should take up a program like this?

Should public safety officers be in good physical and mental condition?

The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office requires a physical fitness obstacle course, the department believes this kind of training is vital.

Jokes aside, I know, I am short, fat and couldn’t catch a squirrel stuck in a peanut can, but I expect more out of our police officers.

Does the SFPD have a physical and mental test of officers each year?

I remember when Dr. Kermit Staggers was on the city council, and he asked then Chief Barthel if the police officers had any physical requirements. A stunned Barthel says, “They have to be able to perform their duties.”

OKAY.

I have literally seen SFPD officers step out of their vehicles and the vehicle bounces back in retraction from the weight being lifted.

Don’t judge. I have advocated on this blog and to city councilors that all patrol officers should get paid at least 4 hours a week for gym and physical fitness time and any other tools to keep them in shape. I believe officers and any city employee is a taxpayer investment and we should give them whatever they need to be successful. I want our officers to be of sharp mind and sharp body. It is not only an investment for citizens and our safety, it is an investment in their lives and families and that really has no price-tag.

The lack of transparency with recent Sioux Falls shootings is appalling

As you may know, the city of Sioux Falls is not big on transparency. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about planning, city employees, elections or the police department, this city and administration can’t wrap transparent government around their heads even if they tried.

Recently two men were shot in our city and the SFPD has yet to give us a motive. There has been a lot of speculation but more then likely both shootings were related to drugs. BUT THAT IS JUST A RUMOR. There have been NO arrests and NO motive given to the public.

I have friends that live very close to both neighborhoods and they are nervous that someone may be randomly killing people after failed robbery attempts.

So why doesn’t the SFPD just tell us?

I think it stems from a deeper affliction in our city as a whole. Those in charge have a deep hatred towards common sense, transparent government and it has an effect on our society as a whole. It also is no coincidence that closed government institutions are usually ran by a majority of authoritarian conservatives. There is only 2 democrats that serve on the Sioux Falls city council and only one of them is active in the party (I’m not even sure the other one is still a member of the party).

I wish I could snap my fingers and make this administration and city council more transparent over night, but I believe there is little hope for the ones currently serving. We need to elect open government advocates that believe in real non-partisan city government. I don’t care what party they belong.

I will be blunt, I don’t give a rat’s ass about business and development deals that may fall thru or get interrupted because you tell us the truth about why someone was shot, we live in this community together, and the citizens matter, start telling us what is going on so we can help solve these crimes.

*I wanted to give an update to my post about the armed guards at the Levitt church service. I recently attended a Saturday night concert at 8th and RR. There was about 500 people in attendance. I saw about 3 private security officers walking around at the event and NONE of them were carrying a gun.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls City Council needs to crack down on irresponsible gun owners

UPDATE: Oh, Oh, Oh, but stolen guns are NOT a problem;

And South Dakota as a whole has also seen a rise in the amount of stolen guns reported recently as well. Data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives showed stolen guns recovered in the state rose from 252 in 2014 to 796 in 2020.

As we know, it seems lately Sioux Falls has become a fine place to pop off guns. We also know that most criminals don’t go through the trouble of background checks to get a gun. Normally it is done illegally and an easy way to get a gun illegally in Sioux Falls is to steal it from an unlocked car.

Why anyone would leave a firearm in an unlocked car is beyond me. I mean, if you own a firearm for protection it should be in one of two places; either on your waist or in a locked case inside your home.

We also know that if the SFPD recovers a stolen weapon used in a crime they have many resources to trace that gun back to the original owner. I think that is why many people who have a gun stolen from an unsecured location like an unlocked car probably don’t report it was stolen.

While I will defend Chief Thum that the police are usually reactionary there are things they can do;

Chief Thum says there is no simple answer to stopping gun violence. Making sure people are held accountable is one step.

“I think a lot of times people say what are police going to do, well the reality is once the trigger is pulled it kind of too late,” said Thum.

Transparency is the first thing that comes to mind, like sharing more information about what happened so residents can assist in finding the criminal. But the Chief and his information officer need to start being more vocal about where the guns are coming from and how many are being stolen in Sioux Falls due to irresponsible gun owners not locking up the weapon when not in use.

I suggested to councilor Starr a couple of years ago that the city council needs to write an ordinance that fines $1,000 to a legal gun owner if their gun is stolen and used in a crime. And I don’t mean stolen from a locked safe in the basement, but from an unlocked car in the driveway.

Like panhandlers, there is only so much you can do to stop people who commit gun violence, but if you start getting tough on the source like fining people who hand money out of the windows of their cars or people who don’t lock up their firearms properly maybe we can alleviate some of these problems.

If the sole purpose of owning a firearm legally is to protect yourself from a criminal, then why would you leave that very protection in your unlocked car? Because you are NOT a responsible gun owner and you should pay a price for your negligence.

The 2nd Amendment, like the 1st is very broad, but lawmakers have the right to regulate both of them.

City of Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County put on notice for high speed pursuit and accident

A 321 notice is a public record and is used to make a party aware that they may be sued. According to the notice, the victim is accusing that the Sheriff’s Department and Police Department of wrongfully pursuing a vehicle and causing an accident (Entire Document)

Since this may be pending litigation, I am not sure what exactly happened BUT I have seen police cars in Sioux Falls speeding thru traffic without sirens or lights on and wondered why.

Did the SFPD need to don Riot Gear at last week’s protest?

I would like to start by applauding the folks (whoever they are) that organized last week’s successful abortion protest. They did it without a permit and thru private messaging. And while a handful of people got arrested, it is quite an accomplishment to pull off a protest of 1,100 people with NO injuries and NO damage to public or private property.

That is a what you call a successful protest.

We have already determined that the group did not need a permit. They were well within their constitutional rights. But what about the street incident?

I have spoken with several protesters about what really took place and why those folks were in the street to begin with. A couple of them have had experience in public safety for over 20 years and several others have been protesting since the early 70’s. They know how civil disobedience can be achieved successfully without anyone or anything getting hurt.

For the most part they said police officers were doing a good job controlling the crowd even without advance notice. The police decided they needed to move the large crowd to Lyon’s Park which required them to close 14th street. THE POLICE CLOSED THE STREET NOT THE PROTESTERS. Up until that point the crowd was moving.

Where things went awry is when the police in riot gear showed up and started forcing people to the park. One protester told me that there really was no reason to have riot gear and smoke bombs, it was just an attempt to intimidate and incite a riot.

So the next time a group of peaceful protesters show up unannounced, leave the tactical gear at the station and politely ask them to move to the other side of the street.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls Police Chief Thum holds presser immediately after Pro-Choice rally

UPDATE: The ACLU confirms that you don’t need a permit for a protest, just don’t jump in front of cars;

The ACLU of South Dakota notes says though that protesters do not need a permit to protest on sidewalks or streets. Communications Director Janna Farley said that does mean that marchers can’t block or impede traffic in doing so.

“You don’t need a permit to march on streets or on sidewalks, as long as the marchers aren’t obstructing car or pedestrian traffic.” Farley said.

I was impressed that Thum decided to have a press conference last night after the rally last night. It’s a step forward for transparency.

I had heard nothing about the rally until I ran into a couple of people yesterday afternoon telling me they were going to a pro-choice rally at Lyon Park. I never guessed that it would draw more than a couple dozen people. One person who attended told me late last night that he guessed around 1,000 folks were at the rally (he worked in public safety for over 20 years and knows how to count large crowds). That number was verified by Thum this morning on KELO AM.

The rally was organized thru private messaging and the police were aware ‘something’ might happen.

I am all for protesting and upholding 1st Amendment rights.

Where it gets ‘murky’ is what the city ordinance says about events like this;

ASSEMBLIES, PARADES AND PROCESSIONS

§ 96.180 DEFINITIONS.

   For the purposes of this subchapter, the following definitions shall apply unless the context clearly indicates or requires a different meaning.

ASSEMBLY. Any block party, demonstration, rally, gathering or group of 25 or more persons, animals or vehicles, or a combination thereof, having a common purpose, design or goal, upon any public street, sidewalk, alley or other public place, which assembly substantially inhibits the usual flow of pedestrians or vehicular travel or which occupies any public area, but does not rise to the definition of a special event.

PARADE. Any scheduled walk, demonstration, procession, motorcade consisting of 25 or more persons, animals or vehicles, or a combination thereof, having a common purpose, design, designation or goal upon any public place, which does not comply with normal and usual traffic regulations and controls.

SPECIAL EVENT.

      (1)   Any of the following activities involving 25 or more persons, animals or vehicles, or a combination thereof, open to the general public taking place on public space that involves a temporary and exclusive use of public space involving a substantial deviation from current legal land use or legal nonconforming use and may include, but not be limited to:

         A.   Amusements or carnivals;

         B.   Entertainment;

         C.   Music by way of sound amplification;

         D.   Dancing;

         E.   Dramatic or theatrical productions;

         F.   Festivals;

         G.   Parades;

         H.   Runs, walks, triathlons and bicycle races or rides that will not comply with the normal or usual traffic regulations or controls or are likely to impede, obstruct, impair or interfere with free flow of traffic;

         I.   Any activity involving the sale of merchandise, food or alcohol;

         J.   Any activity making use of structures not already present on the public space such as stages, booths, canopies, awnings, risers, bleachers, fences, partitions, stands or similar constructions; and

         K.   Any activity taking place on public space that may require for its successful execution city services to a degree significantly over and above that routinely provided under ordinary circumstances, as determined by the special events committee.

SPECIAL EVENTS. Shall not include the use of public space by governmental agencies acting within the scope of their authority.

SPONTANEOUS EVENT. An unplanned or unannounced coming together of persons, animals or vehicles as described in this section, which was not contemplated beforehand by any participants therein and which is caused by or in response to unforeseen circumstances or events and which is neither a parade nor as assembly, as defined in this section.

(1992 Code, § 38-133) (Ord. 70-87, passed 8-31-1987; Ord. 55-03, passed 6-16-2003; Ord. 39-12, passed 6-19-2012)

Cross-reference:

   Definitions and rules of construction generally, see § 10.002

§ 96.181 PERMITS AND EXCEPTIONS.

   (a)   Permit required; assembly. No person shall conduct, manage or participate in any assembly without a valid permit or outside the provisions of a permit as provided in this subchapter.

   (b)   Permit required; special event. No person shall hold, sponsor, aid or cause to be held a special event without a valid permit or outside the provisions of a permit as provided in this subchapter.

   (c)   Exceptions. The provisions of this subchapter shall not apply to or affect funeral processions.

I am not sure that a spontaneous rally loosely organized thru private messaging classifies as a planned event. I certainly don’t believe a protest or rally needs to have a permit if they are gathering in public places. I think that is a violation of 1st Amendment rights. However, I do agree with Thum that once you start blocking streets it is no longer a rally on public property. Remember, the SFPD does not make the rules, the city council does and they have to enforce them.

I would advise anyone who plans a rally like this in the future to stay out of the street, it doesn’t help your cause when police have to drag you off the street. I think it was only a handful of people who were arrested and MOST of the people at the rally stayed on the sidewalk.

As the authoritarians go on their march in DC to turn our country back 100 years you are going to see a lot more events like this.

Sioux Falls Bike Cops need E-Bikes

Image: KEVN FOX TV

I have noticed that the SFPD has put their bike cops out on the trail several days a week. I was surprised to see that Rapid City has had E-Bikes since 2019;

The bikes give officers an edge in patrols along the city’s bike paths and park system during the warmer months. With the electric pedal assist, officers will be able to more-rapidly respond to emergencies, especially along the city’s elevated hiking and biking trails.

I think if the officers got E2 Moped Bikes with detachable/interchangeable backup batteries they could cover more ground and it would be way more affordable, efficient and safer than riding Harleys on the bike trails. You can also deck them out with lights, sirens, I-Pads, multiple baskets, saddle bags and just about anything that fits on a motorcycle.

I encourage the city council to request four bikes be added to the SFPD budget for 2023.

Has the private security detail for the City of Sioux Falls all quit?

Last night at the city council meeting a citizen noticed the normal security guards were NOT at the meeting and replaced with some off duty SFPD detectives. She asked Chief Thum about it and he said that they all quit the same day (Aprox 10). She also did some asking around today and it seems to be a disagreement about salaries. I guess this also includes the mayor’s security at City Hall. Who is going to protect his mini-fridge now?!