South Dakota’s 2017 crime report a mixed bag

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There was some good and some not-so-good news in the Crime in South Dakota 2017 report, especially in Pennington County. The report was released Wednesday morning by the state attorney general’s office.

County officials credited improved diversion programs for drops in juvenile crime numbers.

And while sexual assault numbers climbed, officials noted that roughly 90 percent of sexual assaults are not reported. They believe the increased numbers are due to more victims reporting the assaults, rather than more of the crimes being committed.

However, drug arrests and violent crimes continued to increase in 2017, and Pennington County State’s Attorney Mark Vargo said drugs and violence often go hand-in-hand.

“What it showed us really was something that we probably knew all along,” said Vargo. “Our drug arrests continue to rise at an alarming rate and methamphetamine continues to be a leading indicator of violence. And violent crime has risen commensurately with the increase in our controlled substance arrests. Both of those are terribly troubling to us but are not new to us.”

Vargo also mentioned that the growth in drug-related crimes in South Dakota continues to outpace the national average.

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