Crime reported in Flandreau and Moody County was down in 2020, like the rest of the state, with two exceptions.
Reports of simple assault and drug or narcotics violations in Flandreau increased, according to the state’s Crime in South Dakota, 2020 report. The annual report is the most comprehensive compilation of criminal statistics in the state, according to the South Dakota Attorney General’s office.
With a pandemic declared in March 2020, officers and deputies changed some of their work procedures, such as limiting personal contact with motorists who may have been driving too fast. It also meant that residents were stuck more at home, and Flandreau bars were closed for
several weeks, limiting people from going out.
In Flandreau, police officers took 64 reports of simple assaults, compared with 24 a year earlier and 43, 36 and 72 in 2018, 2017 and 2016. When it comes to drug violations, the department had 61 reports, compared with 45 in 2019, 54 in 2018, 48 in 2017 and 57 in 2016.
Out of those two categories of reports, 34 arrests were made for simple assaults, while 50 were made for the drug violations.
Police Chief Zach Weber said some of those crimes arose because people were home more, including working from home and teaching their children at home. Some families also were more stressed by finances if they lost jobs, and may have turned more to drugs and alcohol to cope.
“In situations like that, where people have to stay home for a long period of time, you see a lot of assaults, fighting in the house,” he said.
Many of the most frequent crimes still are the same this year, he said.
“It’s kind of a continuation of what it was last year,” he said. However, the call volume is up over the last two years’ numbers.
“Our calls for service are up about 300 this year from last year,” he said. Compared with 2019, call numbers have increased by almost 500. So far this year, the police department has gotten 1,807 calls for service, compared with 1,329 in 2019. Those numbers include all traffic stops and 911 calls, including smaller concerns such as a dog running loose.
While the city had no reports of murder, manslaughter or homicide – and hasn’t in at least five years – it did have reports of two rapes and four aggravated assaults, which are considered among the most violent crimes. No arrests were made for the alleged rapes, and two people were arrested for aggravated assault.
Most of the 911 calls in town were for destruction or vandalism, thefts, disorderly conduct, driving while intoxicated and liquor law violations. But those crimes were fewer in number than in previous years.
Only one person was reportedly violating curfew or loitering, and that juvenile was arrested.
There were 38 reported DUIs, compared with 45 a year earlier, for example. All 38 people were arrested.
The total number of reports of specific crimes were 450 in 2020, the lowest in at least the last five years. Of those crimes, 19 juveniles and 268 adults, for a total of 287 people, were arrested.
In 2019, as a comparison, there were 486 reports of crimes. In 2016, the city had a five-year-high of 535 reports.
Moody County had a total of 68 reports of crimes in 2020, which is not to be confused with the much higher number of 911 calls. But the year’s reports were only slightly more than half of the 120 reports in 2019. In the previous three years, 2018-2016, the county had 188, 129 and 157 reports.
A total of 39 people were arrested from those 2020 reports of 68 crimes.
The biggest number of reports were for drug and narcotics violations, which totaled 21, with 14 arrests. That compared with 23 reports in 2019 and a five-year high of 55 reports in 2016.
The county took 14 reports of drug equipment violations, seven reports of simple assault and four reports of DUI.
“It never seemed like, on our end, it slowed down. But we were also a full-time guy short almost all year,” said Sheriff Troy Wellman. That leads to fewer arrests, with deputies busy and less able to go out and find crimes that are happening, he said.
Deputies noticed that people still were drinking, even with bars closed, and sometimes were driving in the rural areas because they spotted a lot more litter of beer cans, bottles and empty beer cases, he said.
The state statistics also showed that one Moody County deputy was assaulted, and city police officers were assaulted eight times.
None of those law enforcement officers were injured enough to require time off from work, Wellman and Weber both said.
In South Dakota, law enforcement agencies reported 47,859 arrests were made based on 72,782 offenses in 2020. The highest number of reports were for drug and narcotics violations, which totaled 8,436. DUI offenses were the second most common at 5,099.