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Burns Named New Sioux Falls Police Chief

Kealey Bultena
Retiring Chief Doug Barthel, Appointed Chief Matt Burns, and Mayor Mike Huether discuss leadership change in SF Police Dept. / August 13, 2015

Assistant Police Chief Matt Burns is the mayor’s choice for the next leader of the Sioux Falls Police Department. Current chief Doug Barthel is leaving the force after more than 12 years in command. The newly-announced chief already has priorities for his tenure.

Matt Burns has spent almost 19 years with Sioux Falls Police. He became assistant chief in March. Now Mayor Mike Huether says Burns is his pick to lead the department.

“This is going to be your team. It’s yours. You don’t want me in there; I’ll just mess it up. I mean, this is your team,” Huether says. “You’re going to have to figure out: how do you want to organize it, how do you want to lead it, how do you want to make this an even stronger police department than what we have today?”

Huether says he has confidence in Matt Burns and his vision for the force.

Burns says he wants people who live and work in Sioux Falls to have a relationship with police.

Credit Kealey Bultena / SDPB
Assistant Police Chief Matt Burns is the mayor's choice for the Chief of Police role. / August 13, 2015

“I’m going to continue to challenge you at an even greater level than what we have in the past to be engaged with us, because we need your help,” Burns says. “This is a team effort. The police team is an incredible bunch of ladies and gentlemen that work very, very hard every day to ensure your public safety. But, again, we depend on you – every one of you – to join with us in that mission.”

Burns says law enforcement must be intentional when they interact with members of the community. He says police need to be aware of communication changes, including social media.

“Look at the way we approach social media; we’ve made some end-runs there. And what’s the best practices in law enforcement across the country? What are others doing to use social media to better engage, get our message out – for public safety purpose, for just a public service announcement type of profile?” Burns says.

The Sioux Falls City Council must approve the appointment before Burns is officially the next police chief. That’s likely to happen sometime in September.

Kealey Bultena grew up in South Dakota, where her grandparents took advantage of the state’s agriculture at nap time, tricking her into car rides to “go see cows.” Rarely did she stay awake long enough to see the livestock, but now she writes stories about the animals – and the legislature and education and much more. Kealey worked in television for four years while attending the University of South Dakota. She started interning with South Dakota Public Broadcasting in September 2010 and accepted a position with television in 2011. Now Kealey is the radio news producer stationed in Sioux Falls. As a multi-media journalist, Kealey prides herself on the diversity of the stories she tells and the impact her work has on people across the state. Kealey is always searching for new ideas. Let her know of a great story! Find her on Facebook and twitter (@KealeySDPB).