Comments Off on Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris: Methamphetamine cause of violent crime increase in South Dakota

Meth has contributed to the doubling of violent crime in South Dakota over the past five years, the Rapid City police chief said Wednesday.

Chief Karl Jegeris and Sioux Falls Police Chief Matt Burns sounded off on the effects of meth on the state in a joint press conference on Wednesday. The meth09Q&A opportunity is part of a recent statewide initiative to raise awareness of meth addiction in South Dakota.

Both chiefs shared alarming statistics related to South Dakota’s meth problem. In Sioux Falls, more than half of the property crimes reported to police are meth-related. In Rapid City, three of the four officer-involved shootings during Jegeris’ two-year tenure can be connected to meth.

“This problem is only going to increase,” Burns said.

Fewer lab busts, higher meth arrests

While meth arrests have increased in Sioux Falls over the years, the methods of making the drug have changed.

In 2014, 502 people in Sioux Falls were arrested for possession of meth and 15 drug labs were busted, Burns said. Arrests went up to 770 the next year but only two labs were busted. So far in 2016, 651 people have been arrested for meth possession but no meth labs have been found.

Although Burns says the lack of labs is a good thing, it doesn’t mean that fewer people are using meth. Home-based meth labs have largely been replaced by the “one-pot” method, in which meth can be produced in a soda bottle or similar container. In addition, Burns says drug cartels are mass-producing meth in so-called superlabs in Mexico and trafficking it into places like South Dakota.

“It’s just not economical,” Burns said of South Dakota-based meth labs, adding that restrictions on Sudafed and other items used in meth production “has changed that dynamic entirely.”

More murders in Rapid City

2015 was a record year for murder in Rapid City, Jegeris said, a statistic that he said painted a horrifying picture of the city’s meth problem.

“Nine murders in our city in one calendar year is simply not acceptable,” Jegeris said. “The majority of those have a direct nexus to meth.”

Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics show that “drug rips,” when a drug user robs another user or dealer, are becoming increasingly common. Rapid City’s sole murder so far in 2016 can be attributed to a drug deal gone bad, he said.

“This is alarming to me,” Jegeris said.

Turning the trend around

Both the police chiefs and Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether have discussed the need for an emphasis on addiction treatment. On Tuesday, Huether and Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender both expressed hopes that state-run treatment facilities could be opened on each side of the state.

“We’re hoping for statewide cooperation,” Allender said.

Besides treating people with meth addiction, Burns said a large part of helping curtail meth use in South Dakota is stopping the influx of the drug from Mexico. Identifying meth users and working up the chain to find those responsible for making it is a big part of what the drug task force does, along with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“You always want to catch the bigger fish,” Burns said.

Jegeris added that changes to the prison system, like drug court, is a step in the right direction.

“I’m concerned but I am hopeful that there is progress being made,” he said.

 

 

http://www.argusleader.com/story/news/crime/2016/09/28/police-chief-meth-cause-violent-crime-increase-sd/91222030/

 

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