Native Sun News Today: The battle against meth in South Dakota

Chief Matt Burns of the Sioux Falls Police Department listens in on the monitor as Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris speaks from the podium. Photo by Richie Richards

Two largest cities in SD join forces against meth
By Richie Richards
Native Sun News Today Staff Writer

RAPID CITY –– It’s an ongoing battle they have no intention of losing.

The police chiefs for Sioux Falls and Rapid City held a joint press conference via video streamed from the two largest cities in South Dakota making their stand against methamphetamine.

The rise of meth in both communities is contributing to the crime rates associated with those addicted committing crimes to fund their addiction.

In recent years across the nation and in the State of South Dakota and specifically in Rapid City, there has been a push to decrease the incarceration rates in jails and prisons; the counterbalance of decreasing the jail populations has been the desire to increase the rehabilitative and recovery services.

Meth addiction services are yet to happen significantly in both communities. This has been the issue in dealing with meth criminality and both Police Chiefs Matt Burns and Karl Jegeris are jointly concerned.

Both cities are seeing an increase in crimes attached to those addicted. In Sioux Falls in 2015, 9.7 pounds of meth were seized and so far in 2016 there has been 29 pounds of meth seized. The arrests for drug possession and distribution are on a steady rise over the last few years, according to Chief Burns.

In Rapid City, 2015 was a “record year” according to Chief Jegeris, as there were nine murders in South Dakota’s second largest city. “This is alarmingly high for a city our size,” said Jegeris at the joint news conference.

There was 76 robberies in Rapid City in 2015, many of which had a direct connection to meth or happened during a drug trade. Robberies during a drug transaction are called “drug rips”, according to Jegeris. So far there has been one murder, locally. This was a drug rip case in which a man was killed during a meth transaction near East North Street in Rapid City.

The state’s meth problem cannot be addressed solely by one agency, according to the chiefs of police. The tentacles of meth addiction reach into many phases of life and one organization is not enough to battle this latest drug epidemic. “We need to get everybody to the table,” said Rapid City’s police chief.

Crime rates in both cities have a direct connection to the meth trade. “Meth changes the way the brain operates … it becomes a survival mechanism,” said Chief Burns. Getting the next high is the ultimate goal of the meth addict and this is achieved by any means necessary, including committing crimes to get money.

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Two largest cities in SD join forces against meth

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Copyright permission Native Sun News

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