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Sioux Falls Police Chief Says Department Policies Align with Calls for Reform

Jordyn Henderson

Sioux Falls Police Chief Matt Burns says the department’s existing policies are already in line with calls for police reform. 

Chief Burns outlined eight measures that are often mentioned in reform discussions. They include de-escalation and the duty of officers to intervene if another is using excessive force.

Chief Burns says existing policy fits the national calls for reform.

“Since the tragic and senseless death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25th, our department has undertaken a specific review of eight key areas of our policy to ensure they are in compliance with the law, best practices in our profession, and frankly the expectations of the community we serve,” he explains.

Chief Burns adds the policy has been under review by the Legal and Liability Risk Management Institute since last year. That review ensures policies follow state and federal law.

Captain Mike Walsh of the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office says his office is in conversation with state and Congressional leaders.

“Additionally the sheriff and the chief have met with the governor and Senator Thune to ensure that anything that comes from the federal level and the state level that we’ll be able to be in full compliance with and have our policies reflect the will of what our citizens want to have," says Captain Walsh.

Wednesday morning, Senate Republicans announced a police reform proposal that includes barring departments from receiving certain grants unless they ban chokeholds.

The Sioux Falls police department doesn’t ban chokeholds outright. A news release from the City of Sioux Falls says chokeholds “are only allowed in a situation where an officer’s life is at risk and where lethal force is authorized.”

As for other accountability measures, police chief Matt Burns says the department is willing to consider a citizen advisory board…but he doesn’t have a time frame for when that might happen.

“Well that kinda depends on the group that you draw from," he says. "I think that’s something that’s very reasonable and we’re gonna study that.”

He says citizens with complaints about officer conduct can contact that officer’s supervisor.