Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $88,536)
The District of South Dakota’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) strategy couples targeted, data-driven enforcement efforts with community outreach and prevention programs to bring about a sustained and lasting impact on violent crime. The primary focus of the PSN initiative in South Dakota is to reduce gun, gang, and drug crimes through proactive investigations and community engagement efforts. The U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) for the District of South Dakota has targeted Rapid City as a location of concern in its PSN efforts. Although the PSN initiative is an ongoing effort, the project period for the 2023 PSN grant funding is anticipated to extend through December 2024.
Through an established PSN task force, the USAO collaborates with key partners, including the Pennington County States Attorney’s Office, Rapid City Police Department, Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, South Dakota Highway Patrol and federal law enforcement agencies to share intelligence, and identify, and target offenders within the targeted area that are driving violent crime and distribution of illegal drugs. As part of the strategic enforcement efforts, a crime analyst tracks monthly statistics relating to calls for service and prepares “hot spot” mapping within Rapid City to identify the locations where violent crimes are the most prevalent. Using this information, local and federal law enforcement agencies focus their enforcement efforts on the most significant violent offenders within the target area, increase enforcement efforts against illegal firearms and drugs, conduct warrant sweeps, and engage in meaningful community prevention and intervention efforts to deter future crimes and draw public awareness.
South Dakota has seen an increase in methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl use. Other drug trafficking has become a prevalent issue; and both the threat and actual instances of gun violence are on the rise. In Rapid City, it has become commonplace to find illegal drug distributors and users in possession of firearms. Over the past several years, there has been a significant increase in violent crimes, including murders, robberies, and assaults, committed by individuals under the influence of controlled substances. Statistics show illegal drug use and trafficking are also associated with a substantial percentage of burglaries and other property crimes committed in the target area. Through the PSN initiative, law enforcement, working hand-in-hand with community members, can bring about a lasting impact on violent crime and make our communities a safer place.