Since January first, 26 South Dakotans have been reported missing

Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 8:16 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Since the beginning of this month, 26 South Dakotans have been reported missing. In a smaller populated State like South Dakota, it can be alarming to see the list of those missing continue to grow. The attorney General’s office has made changes to better share information with the public in hopes of bringing the lost safely home.

We have been updating the missing persons numbers since the beginning of 2023, and those stories garnered attention from viewers and raised more questions nationwide.

There are some misunderstandings about when police will take a missing persons report and take action. Sam Clemens, Sioux Falls Police Public Information Officer, wants to clear up some misconceptions.

“You get what it is maybe some preconceived notions from TV or movies that you have to wait some time period before you report a person missing, but that’s not the case,” said Clemens. “The police will have the dispatcher send information to Pierre, and then they will enter that information into the nationwide computer system that says that person is missing.”

The national crime information center, or NCIC is where all law enforcement agencies file their reports. Details from the NCIC are automatically populated to the Attorney General missing person web page.

Bonnie Feller Hagen, SD Missing Persons Clearinghouse Manger can make manual changes if requested.

“We are just being a repository and basically a clearing house,” said Feller Hagen. “If we have any photos available to us, we add those manually. And also, if there are any narratives or remarks, those are added manually.”

We asked if there’s someone who looks at the page as a whole to ask questions, such as the four individuals with traditional Native American names, missing from reservations and listed as unknown race.

“By statute, we are a repository for the information. We’re not the investigating agency,” said Feller Hagen.

Questions about a missing person or the listing can be answered by lead investigators.

“At least in Sioux Falls, we still handle the investigation,” said Clemens. “Juveniles that run away from home. We have other people that just don’t want to be found. sometimes they show back up within a few days. Other times it is longer than that.”

Every report is taken seriously, regardless of the situation.

Of the approximate 135 people listed as missing, a disproportionate 80 are Native American. Tomorrow we will introduce you to the state’s new missing and murdered Indigenous People’s Liaison and what she hopes to accomplish in the her new role.