Sioux Falls police answered fewer calls, wrote fewer tickets in 2022

Accounting for a 14% population growth between 2017 and 2022, the department wrote 34% fewer tickets last year.

SFPD police car.PNG
Sioux Falls Police Department car on Phillips Avenue.
Patrick Lalley / Sioux Falls Live

SIOUX FALLS — As the population of Sioux Falls grows, the city’s police department is answering a lower share of calls and writing fewer citations, newly released data show.

The Sioux Falls Police Department received 127,089 calls for service in 2022 as part of the city’s first direct drop in call volume since at least 2014. That number was roughly 1,100 fewer calls than 2021 and about 400 fewer than 2020.

Statistics released by the Sioux Falls Police Department and county sheriff reported a 216% increase in the amount of fentanyl seized from 2020 to 2022.

Though the number of calls for service may not seem like much of a decrease on face, Sioux Falls’ population growth results in police responding to fewer 911 calls per capita since 2017.

While the city’s population has grown by an average of 2.63% annually since 2014, the department’s call volume has only increased by an average of 1.46% each year, indicating that police are spending less time responding to 911 calls.

Sioux Falls Police Chief Jon Thum said part of that drop is a result on the city’s online reporting system seeing more use. With more than 6,000 reports filed online last year, officers can spend more time on patrol and focusing on calls.


“We’ve seen more and more online reports, which kind of levels out this call for service component. That’s people filing a report out online rather than calling an officer out to their house to do that,” Thum said. “We get a place to start and it helps us get some of the calls off the street and officers don't have to respond, they can follow up with it afterward.”

Violent crime rate was flat last year and lower than the 2020 spike. The police chief says he’s “pleased,” but not happy with the overall state of public safety in the city.

They’re not using that extra time to write tickets, either, as citations issued by the Sioux Falls Police Department have fallen to the lowest level.

Last year saw officers issued 23,015 citations in city limits, characterized primarily by 7,280 speeding tickets. Also issued were 4,624 for licensing violations, 3,331 insurance-related tickets and 769 for driving under the influence. Accounting for a 14% population growth between 2017 and 2022, the department wrote 34% fewer tickets.

While call volumes and citation issuance may be falling, Thum said there’s still room for more officers at his department.

“We’re currently sitting at 280 officers of our authorized 288, which puts us in a better position than most agencies our size — in fact in a really good position,” Thum said. “We need to keep aggressively pursuing hiring more officers, and we can't really take our foot off the gas now.”

It’s been difficult for law enforcement agencies across the country to continue hiring, Thum said, but Sioux Falls has had no problem continuing to hire, adding 35 officers to their ranks in 2022.

The Department of Corrections is looking for land to replace the aging penitentiary near the city's downtown.

“We are growing at a sustainable pace as a department. … If you look at any news story, you’ll see talk about severe staffing shortages at departments across the country,” he said. “We need to keep pushing the message out that we’re hiring and we want more people who want to serve their community.”

The Sioux Falls Police Department currently offers a $5,000 hiring bonus as an incentive, with $1,000 paid out on the first paycheck and the remainder after a successful probationary period.


Thum said classes for anyone interested in a career in law enforcement are scheduled to begin this fall at the new Sioux Falls Public Safety Training Campus.

A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021 and now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on local news in Sioux Falls. He also writes regional news spanning across the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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