Reservation crime would nearly double South Dakota stats

Published: Mar. 20, 2017 at 5:33 PM CDT
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The 2016 crime report was released by the South Dakota Attorney General’s office Monday, revealing some interesting trends.

While violent crimes like murder and rape are down, drug offenses are on the rise and contributing to other major crimes.

While crime statistics released Monday cover all state jurisdictions in South Dakota, they do not include crimes committed by Native Americans on the state's nine reservations. When you look at both these state and federal crimes, it's clear all areas of South Dakota are battling one big problem.

“Right now there's a meth epidemic across the nation,” South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said.

Drug use in South Dakota increased by 12.5 percent in 2016, but that doesn't include what's happening on the reservations.

“The number of cases and the number of users of meth has been rising on the reservations across the state,” Matt Moore, FBI Supervisory Senior Resident Agent for Sioux Falls and Aberdeen offices said.

The FBI and tribal authorities have jurisdiction over all of the crimes that happen on South Dakota’s reservations.

“The increase in drugs is correlating with the violent crime that is happening,” Moore said.

Communities on state lands saw 21 homicides in 2016, down 22 percent from the previous year; while reservations in South Dakota are seeing a steep increase in violent crimes.

“When you look at Indian country, often times some of this is being driven by methamphetamine and driven by gang violence,” Jackley said.

“I know there's been an increase in gun violence on the Pine Ridge Reservation and a lot of that is correlated to organizations trafficking meth,” Moore said.

The FBI told the Rapid City Journal in February that there were 17 homicides on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 2016.

“Specifically we've seen an increase in violent crime incidents in all of the reservations throughout the states,” Moore said.

Agent Moore says the state-wide murder statistics would nearly double if reservations were included.

“Obviously it affects the reservations as well as the rest of the state when the methamphetamines come in from the southern borders,” Jackley said.

It’s why federal and state authorities are working together to combat meth use across the state.

“We're seeing it in and outside of our reservations,” Jackley said. “We need to get ahead of this by spreading the information to the youth and we need to do everything we can with intervention and recovery."

Both state and federal agencies have seen recent increases in resources to help combat the state's growing drug problem.

Right now the FBI does not track crime statistics at reservations across the state, but Moore says it is something his office is working to compile.