Drugs are the root of most crimes in the Black Hills
RAPID CITY, S.D. – The slogan, “Meth We’re On It” broke the internet last year and made its way around the country. The phrase highlighted the stronghold that meth has on hundreds of South Dakotans.
Meth isn’t the only drug that affects the lives of people in this state, it’s just one of several that have caused chaos in our communities.
According to the Rapid City Police Department, in this year alone the city has seen 10 homicides and eight of those homicides involved drug use or distribution.
While these specific crimes left several dead, drugs are involved in about 90% of overall crime in Pennington County.
“Drugs are really a plague in our society. It’s just amazing the amount of things that kind of surround it, from property crimes to actual people crimes, people against people,” says Capt. John Olson, with RCPD.
The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) saw a little over 1,200 methamphetamine arrests in 2019, which was a 13% increase from the previous year.
“With prolonged use people get very paranoid, they get violent and you see that acted out whether it’s the homicides we’ve had or assaults, domestic violence, pick one. Meth has permeated all of those,” says Sheriff Kevin Thom with PCSO.
According to the latest annual report from the sheriff’s office, heroin made its way into the community last year. In years past less than 1% of drug arrests were heroin related, but in 2019 heroin arrests peaked at 5%.
Capt. Olson say, “through our training and experience what we see is that once people get into a drug like meth or heroin they become so physically or mentally addicted to it and they’re always looking to accomplish that high again.”
While the sheriff’s office has the care campus, which assists in recovery, they encourage family members and friends to be proactive in preventing drug crimes.
Sheriff Thom adding, “if somebody is going down a bad path with drug use and selling drugs, whatever it might be you need to intervene. Law enforcement can’t solve this. Once it gets to our level it means somebody has committed a crime or gotten into a position where we have to take legal action”