No Matter the Call
By Rep. Kristi Noem
I am incredibly grateful for the work of South Dakota’s law enforcement officers. The job has never been easy, but with violent crime on the rise, a growing drug epidemic, and a looming mental health crisis, more is being asked of our men and women in blue than ever before.
Between 2005 and 2015, South Dakota’s violent crime rate doubled. Drug arrests are up. Aggravated assault and domestic violence is increasing. Sioux Falls has become more dangerous than Fargo, North Dakota, or Omaha, Nebraska. And people are feeling the impact. I hear all the time how our communities just don’t feel like they did 15 years ago; they feel less safe.
When President Trump was sworn in last year, he brought his profound respect for law enforcement into the Oval Office. Together, we’ve increased support for those in blue. For instance, we expanded Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants, which are used for hiring and training police officers and have provided $13 million in funding to South Dakota law enforcement in the last five years.
In South Dakota, much of the drain on our resources comes from a growing drug epidemic. In recent months, Governor Daugaard declared that meth use in South Dakota was at epidemic levels. Opioid abuse is on the rise as well. While I believe prevention is key, I introduced a set of bills to strengthen families during drug addiction treatment and amplify efforts to prevent the child abuse and neglect that can result from drug use.
Additionally, I’m working to cut off drugs at their source. President Trump’s border wall is critical to stemming illegal drug trafficking, and I’ve voted to fully fund his proposal. I’m also working on legislation to crack down on Mexican drug traffickers and those who help facilitate their illicit activities at the border.
Moreover, we need to fix the quirks in the law that make law enforcement jobs harder, which is what my CUFF Act intends to do. The bill is commonsense: it prohibits individuals with outstanding felony warrants or parole violations from receiving certain Social Security benefits. It’s not only unfair to ask taxpayers to pay people who are fleeing the law, but it’s self-defeating to subsidize someone’s attempt to shirk law enforcement. As Staci Ackerman, Executive Director of the South Dakota Sheriffs’ Association said, the bill would “limit [a wanted felon or parole violator’s] ability to avoid justice using taxpayer dollars to evade capture.” This bill was passed in the House and is awaiting a vote in the Senate.
Each of these tools aim to help law enforcement do their job better and more safely. This, in turn, keeps our communities safer. As we mark National Police Week on May 13 through 19, I ask that you find a way to thank the heroes who protect us every day as well as their families, who often wait anxiously for their loved one to return home each shift, not knowing what situations they faced that day.
Finally, on behalf of my family and I, please know that we’re praying for you and for your safety. I admire the work of our law enforcement officers and the courage required to respond no matter the call.