Beadle County Sheriff addresses Republican Women's event

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HURON – Beadle County Sheriff Doug Solem was the featured speaker Thursday at July’s monthly meeting of the Beadle County Republican Women at Ryan’s Hanger.

Solem discussed that he has worked for 27 years in law enforcement, and there have been notable changes during his career.

One of those changes is the rise of scams.

“They’ve been trying to get away with those things for years,” Solem stated. “We just have seen a lot of reported scams lately, and it’s getting pretty crazy the information that they can get.”

Solem noted that one particular resident was scammed out of $30,000.

Solem addressed the drug issue in the county and stated that it’s significantly more of a use issue than a manufacturing issue.

“The estimate is that 95% of all methamphetamine comes in through the Southern border,” Solem stated. “You almost never hear of a meth lab locally, just those who are addicted to it. That’s essentially why we have a Drug Court.”

He also expressed that fentanyl is not a major issue in the county, but it has been popping up more in the state.

Another major change has been with the juvenile justice system.

“They changed a bunch of things about 10-12 years back,” Solem noted. “After they’re arrested, we have to do a risk assessment and call Pierre to see if they qualify to be detained…and pretty much most of the time, they don’t.”

The sheriff explained that there is a legislative work group reviewing the issue of juvenile and “emerging adult” justice this summer. He cited a statistic that estimated that 25% of all those detained within the state are between ages 18-25.

He noted the importance of programs like Drug Court and diversion programs for juvenile and 18-25 offenders to address young offenders.

“We probably have 20 people in (Drug Court) right now,” Solem said. “It’s been fairly successful. Now, they can accept people with a high number of DUI’s for the program.”

The changes haven’t always been for the best, Solem expressed.

“When someone gets in trouble, we’re probably sending those people out of state because we don’t really have a place like Plankinton and Custer used to be now,” he explained. “Instead, the state has to pay for them to be transported and housed in another state.”

On the point of being paid for prisoners, Solem said that the Beadle County jail receives inmates from throughout the state.

“I have contracts with at least 10 other counties,” Solem said. “The most we have is from Walworth County.”

He continued, “We get paid by other counties to hold their inmates, so it’s good for the county budget as long as we can handle it.”

Solem reported that the jail can hold 62 inmates, but rarely does it get over 40. He also stated that the jail has been running two jailers short, and that recruiting has been a challenge.

The Beadle Sheriff’s office is comprised of Solem and four deputies.