Drugs At Forefront Of Recent Violent Crimes

Several Incidents, Including Two Fatal, In Sioux Falls Come With Common Drug-Related Thread

Over the last couple weeks in Sioux Falls, police are finding a common thread to a string of violent crimes.

Drug use and trafficking have led to several violent, even deadly, incidents.

On February 22, police say a very small amount of marijuana led to a high speed chase, resulting in the death of Kareem Cisse, 15.

Between the week of February 28 and March 3, two officers were hit by cars in drug-related arrests.

Last Sunday, authorities say a bad reaction to chemical drugs led to the stabbing death of Alexander Rodriquez.

Sioux Falls Police Chief Matt Burns said these incidents aren’t coming as a surprise due to an increase in drug-related crimes.

“Drug use and abuse really knows no boundaries. It knows no age boundaries, no economic boundaries and it affects everyone that it touches seemingly in a negative way,” said Chief Burns.

Burns said the recent string of events only bolsters their message of taking drugs seriously in the community.

“It only creates situations where people become addicted, they become desperate, it impacts their work, and it impacts their families. There’s really not a positive thing to it,” said Burns.

Police aren’t the only ones noticing an uptick.

Sarah Giese with the Keystone Treatment and Outreach program says they’re seeing more people coming through their doors.

“We kind of have seen an increase in the number of adolescents who are using. Most of the time, when they come to us, they’re already involved in the legal problem through DOC or DSS, that kind of thing,” said Giese.

Giese said common warning signs of drug use include personality and mood changes, lack of motivation, sleeping and eating problems, and a change in relationships or crowds.

She said the best way to confront a possible issue is simply by starting a conversation.

“Even just educating them even if they aren’t using, just educate them on, you know, what type of drugs are out there, what type of effects they may have,” said Giese.

Burns admitted that that conversation may not be the easiest to start.

“You have to recognize those and have the courage and the willingness to reach out to a family member, who may be, or a friend who may be going down that wrong path,” said Burns.

Giese said the warning signs are similar for both teens and adults, alike.

However, she said the common difference is adult users tend to conceal their issues better.

Burns said the department added drug task force officers last year to curb the rising problem of drug use in the city.

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