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Daily commute helps keep city crime down
By By Alica P. Thiele
Challenger reporter

February 20. 2014 9:26AM
Drunken driving arrests in Brandon are down but non-injury accidents and animal complaints were higher last year compared with a year earlier.

Other area of crime statistics in Brandon changed very little last year compared to 2012. There were 62 vandalism reports last year compared with 69 in 2012, for example, and there were 319 disorderly conduct reports last year compared with 294 in 2012.

Brandon Police Chief Dave Kull said many categories of crime haven’t increased or decreased significantly in the last six years, despite Brandon’s continuing population growth.

“Growth can certainly affect how busy a police department is, but there are many factors that have to be taken into consideration,” he said. “Many of those people that are moving here still work in Sioux Falls, so in the morning you see a mass exodus heading west out of town and returning in the evening.”

Kull said employment levels also affect crime rates.

“I believe higher unemployment in a particular area can translate into more work for a police department. Those numbers are relatively low for our area,” he said.

In a few areas, the city saw a significant upward tick, however. Animal complaints, for example, went from 66 in 2012 to 96 last year. Are there more strays in town, or were people just in the complaining mood last year? Not necessarily, Kull said.

“With our proximity to the Sioux River and Splitrock Creek, we have a number of calls dealing with such things as opossums, raccoons and such. I believe the number of dogs and cats taken to the Humane Society was down last year,” he said.

Non-injury motor vehicle accidents also took a jump, with 159 in 2012 and 197 last year. Last April’s ice storm may have contributed in part to the higher number, Kull said. He pointed out that total accidents, including injury and non-injury, totaled 187 in 2008, 154 in 2009, 203 in 2010, 187 in 2011 and 181 in 2012.

Some numbers went down last year from the previous year. Written warnings, for example, went from 1,226 in 2012 to 871 last year. Kull said there was no policy change in his department concerning written warnings, and he thinks citations statewide have gone down in recent years, according to conversations he’s had at a recent police chiefs’ meeting.

“Officers are encouraged to continue to focus on traffic enforcement,” he said.
“Voluntary compliance is our hope and goal, because we would prefer to not have to write someone a ticket.”

To help people monitor their speed, Brandon soon will have two more permanently-installed radar speed signs — one on each end of Splitrock Boulevard, where the speed transitions from 45 mph to 30 mph. There is one such sign already, at the west city limits of Brandon on Holly Boulevard, where eastbound traffic must slow from 55 mph to 45 mph.

Kull said the new signs will go up when the ground thaws.

Police in Brandon respond to calls of all sorts, from traffic violations, to burglary reports, assaults, domestic disputes and substance violations. Many of the calls deal with issues not widely known in town, such as suicide threats and attempts. Police responded to 37 such calls last year, compared with 28 in 2012.

Kull said the most significant change in that area in the past year is not the number of calls, but how they are handled.

Law enforcement officers work with a Mobile Crisis Team, created by Minnehaha County two years ago, to respond to suicide calls. The team, consisting of a counselor and a licensed psychological nurse, evaluates the person who has made threats to himself or herself. The team might be able to diffuse the situation on site or recommend proper channels for treatment. Before the team was created, many of these people ended up in jail.
Kull said that Brandon Police have made referrals to the Mobile Crisis Team, sometimes meaning police involvement is a written report only.

As Brandon’s population nears 10,000 people, one might expect crime rates to go up, but Kull said the city continues to have a small-town atmosphere. “Our success as a police department is largely dependent on people of the community acting as our eyes and ears,” he said.

“We encourage people to be watchful in the community and, if something looks suspicious, to call our dispatch center so we can be notified and officers can respond to the area. If there truly is a crime occurring, the quicker officers are on the scene, the better the chances of a favorable resolution.”
BRANDON CRIME STATS
2013 vs. 2012
• Shoplifting 12, 5
• Domestic assault 23, 21
• Residential burglary 16, 21
• DUI 60, 71
• Juvenile liquor violations 5, 22
• Animal bites 14, 17
• Abandoned vehicles 29, 33





Crime stats for 2013 remained relatively the same as 2012, according to Police Chief Dave Kull. Challenger file photo



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