Police Encourage Strong Neighborhood Connections

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Police departments across the nation are celebrating National Night Out. The event promotes police and community partnership. But one neighborhood on the east side of Sioux Falls is taking this idea a step further.

With hot dogs, live music and games, the Orchard Heights neighborhood knows how to put on a party. But there is some serious business behind the gathering.

“We are trying to establish or begin a neighborhood association,” says Jaki Thoms.

Thoms is hoping this is the start of a strong neighborhood bond.

“We’re looking at security systems, we’re looking at community building, relationship building, doing some social events,” she explains.

Neighborhood watch groups are not unusual in Sioux Falls, with more than 15 established in the city. On National Night Out, police are visiting these areas to encourage neighbors working together. They say it can actually decrease crime in the area.

“When a criminal sees a community that cares, they’re not going to want to go to that area,” explains Sioux Falls Police Officer Kyle Johnson.

But if they do, Officer Johnson says it’s the neighbors who will be aware of criminal activity first.

“The people who live here know who is supposed to live here and it’s important for them to make that phone call when something is not right, so that we can check it out,” he says.

That’s what Thoms wants most for her neighborhood.

“People we have in this area have lived here for many years, but as people are aging and getting out of the neighborhood, we have new people in all the time,” says Thoms. “And that’s why this is a really good way to pull everyone together and to get to meet each other.”

In total, the Sioux Falls Police visited 25 neighborhoods. Police say it’s important to remind communities that they are human and their goal is to keep everyone safe.

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