2016 Report: Meth Driving Crime In South Dakota

SD Attorney General: 'It's a national epidemic. It's hit us here in South Dakota.'

More than 42,000 people were arrested in South Dakota last year, that’s according to the state’s 2016 crime report released Monday. While there’s some good news in the findings, the state’s top attorney says South Dakota still has work to do. The fight against meth is at the top of the list.

“South Dakota remains a very safe place to live,” said South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley.

When it comes to the most violent crimes, Jackley says the numbers dropped in 2016.

“Those offenses that should concern the public the most, murder the sex abuse type cases, those are down 20 percent,” said Jackley.

According to the recent crime report, the state saw 21 murders last year compared to 27 the year before. However, the Westerhuis tragedy alone added five additional murder cases to the list in 2015.

“Most Attorney Generals would be satisfied with that. Certainly, there’s more work to be done,” Jackley said.

The most work, Jackley says, needs to be done when it comes to fighting meth.

Jackley said, “It’s a national epidemic. It’s hit us here in South Dakota. We had an additional 853 drug arrests this year.”

Authorities made more than 7,600 drug-related arrests last year compared to just over 6,800 in 2015. Jackley says a majority of those crimes were meth-based.

Jackley said, “I knew it was going to be an increase, but to increase by 12.5 percent is a very significant number.”

He says meth is why we’re seeing high numbers in other areas.

“It drives crime, such as burglary, some of the property crimes. It may even drive, to a degree, DUI offenses, and so we need to make sure that we are doing everything we can in South Dakota, starting with our youth, to make sure they understand the dangers of meth,” said Jackley.

Those property crimes cost more than $30 million last year. A little more than 6,600 people were arrested for DUI, an increase of nearly 3 percent from 2015.

Since 2007, South Dakota has added 304 law enforcement officers. One-hundred-sixty-eight of them came just last year. Jackley says he’s glad communities are making safety a priority as adding more officers helps in the effort to prevent crimes.

For a list of the full report, click here.

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