Knowing Aberdeen is growing and getting more culturally diverse, Kristi Noem Friday asked local law enforcers how those factors affect their work and what resources they need.

Noem, a Republican, is South Dakota's lone member in the U.S. House. She's announced a 2018 gubernatorial run.

Aberdeen Police Chief Dave McNeil said crime will increase with a larger population, but there isn't an accurate way to measure the specifics.

"Drug use, domestic violence and mental health cuts across all cultures," he said. "All groups suffer."

Cultural diversity does bring challenges, however.

"We're always looking for translators," McNeil said.

That's because new residents don't always speak English and there can be a lack of understanding about local ordinances and laws.

Brown County Sheriff Mark Milbrandt said a lack of understanding about local laws makes responding to calls more difficult.

McNeil said that carries over to state Game, Fish and Parks Department conservation officers handling reports of trespassing or people exceeding their game limits.

He said one approach police are trying is an outreach program that allows officers to visit with new residents from different cultural backgrounds and explain laws.

Increased diversity also affects jail operations, Milbrandt said. Some cultures have dietary restrictions, like they won't eat pork, or the dietary needs are related to medical issues like diabetes.

Police, the sheriff's office and GFP officials met with Noem Friday afternoon at the police gun range. Part of the presentation included body camera video depicting police interaction with people who are alleged to be under the influence of methamphetamine. One woman, during a traffic stop, was constantly in motion and jittery before the officer took her to his patrol vehicle. In another video, an officer responded to a home where a mother was displaying symptoms of paranoia, thinking other people were in her home.

Noem said those problems are not unique to Aberdeen.

"I know law enforcement needs more resources," she said. "I want to hear from them on what they need."

She said the information will help her when she meets with the U.S. attorney's office to develop a pilot program that will help local officers handle drug problems in creative, new ways. The program, she said, is still being developed.

Gaining more insight into law enforcement also helps her as a candidate for governor, Noem said, since it will be one of her platform issues. She said she knows the amount of crime is going up.

"We need to combat this and turn it around," she said.

Drug problems have also been a priority for Marty Jackley, the state attorney general who has also announced he will seek the GOP nomination for governor next year. So have former state legislator Lora Hubbel and Terry LaFleur of Sioux Falls.

Aberdeen needs

A recent workload analysis was completed for the Aberdeen Police Department showing the need for additional officers.

McNeil said the department has submitted a Community Oriented Policing Services — commonly called COPS — grant application that will help offset the cost of hiring two officers.

Police Capt. Eric Duven said the three-year grant would cover 70 percent of the payroll for the two officers.

More than two officers are needed, McNeil said, but the city plans to take a measured approach in making the new hires. That means potentially adding another two new officers in 2019 and then again evaluating department needs.

Other programs have also helped the police department add resources. State grants have helped buy two drug detection dogs. The money for those grants comes from the state's forfeiture program. Through it, law enforcement can seize vehicles, money and other property when there are drug arrests.

The city also has an armored vehicle that was decommissioned by the military. Aberdeen applied for the surplus vehicle, and it's now an $800,000 resource the department wouldn't otherwise have, McNeil said.

He said another challenge is that drugs can be ordered online via "the darknet" and mailed to Aberdeen.

"A postal inspector in Aberdeen would be helpful," McNeil said.

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