Homicide, sex offenses, assaults up in SD in 2014; criminal offenses rise 1 percent over year

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SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota — A shooting on the Lake Traverse Indian Reservation that left four people dead contributed to a significant spike in homicides last year in South Dakota, according to a report released Thursday by Attorney General Marty Jackley's office.

The report shows South Dakota saw 20 homicides in 2014, up from 12 the year before. The lowest homicide rate recorded in the state during the past decade was in 2010, when 11 people were slain.

"When people ask me: 'Does this concern you?' Certainly. One murder or manslaughter would concern me as attorney general, but when you got this small of a calculation and you throw in Sisseton into the mix, that's what's really changed the number (of homicides)," Jackley said.

The fatal shooting in the Indian reservation town of Sisseton in northeast South Dakota that happened in November ended in four deaths after the 22-year-old shooter, Colter Arbach, killed three people before taking his own life. The incident was a result of domestic violence.

The report released Thursday also shows that the total number of criminal offenses last year rose 1 percent from 2013, to more than 65,000. Law enforcement agencies during the same period reported a total of 37,857 arrests.

Jackley said the small percentage increase in offenses reflects that South Dakota overall "remains a very safe place to live." He added that his office has room for improvement in terms of public safety; two of those areas are financial crimes and sexual crimes against children.

Last year, 38 people were arrested for solicitation of a minor or enticement and 19 others for child pornography, compared to 31 and 23 arrests respectively. Arrests for sex offenses that did not involve minors added up to 111, a 2 percent increase over the year.

Simultaneously, 441 were taken into custody on fraud charges, 79 for counterfeiting or forgery, and 36 for embezzlement. Thefts totaled over $23 million worth of property loss.

Trending downward were the arrests of juvenile offenders. Law enforcement took into custody 4,888 minors in 2014, that's 695 fewer juvenile arrests compared to 2013.

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