South Dakota

What to do here

Click a "Get Template" button to get an email template about a specific issue. Edit the template to connect on a more personal level with your lawmaker. See the Contacting Logistics page for information about how to write an effective email to your lawmakers. Get your lawmakers' emails with the search box to the right. Send the email!

Be sure to check out the Next Steps at the bottom of the page. Go to the References/Further Reading page to see our sources and do some research of your own.

Last updated March 5, 2020



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Legislation Achieved

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Some Progress

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No Progress


Learn about demilitarization and the specific issues below on the Demilitarization page (opens in a new window).


No knock warrants

No Progress:

South Dakota has not yet enacted a law eliminating the use of no-knock warrants. Judges may issue a no-knock warrant if they believe "the property sought in the case may be easily and quickly destroyed or disposed of, or that danger to the life or limb of the officer or another may result." There is no standard of proof required beyond that something "may" occur.

1033 purchases

No Progress:

South Dakota has not yet enacted a law ending its participation in programs that facilitate the transfer of military weapons from the federal government to police departments.

Military style training

Some Progress:

Blue Courage training is mandatory in basic training for all South Dakota officers, as is a Fair and Impartial Treatment anti-bias course. There are several other holistic training courses in basic training, like Community Oriented Policing and Emotional Intelligence, that shift the focus away from a militant police mentality.

SWAT data

No Progress:

South Dakota has not yet enacted a law requiring the recording and cataloging of SWAT team use.

For Profit Policing

Learn about for profit policing and the specific issues below on the For Profit Policing page (opens in a new window).


Civil asset forfeiture

No Progress:

South Dakota has not yet enacted a law ending civil asset forfeiture. Not only does the government have a low standard of proof to link an asset seizure to a crime, but they also keep 100% of the proceeds. Additionally, South Dakota law enforcement agencies are not required to track or report their forfeitures.


No Progress:

South Dakota has not yet enacted a law ending quotas for low-level arrests.

Cost of misconduct

No Progress:

South Dakota has not yet enacted a law requiring police departments (not state general funds) to cover the cost of misconduct.

Broken Windows Policing

Learn about broken windows policing and the specific issues below on the Broken Windows Policing page (opens in a new window).


Minor offenses

Some Progress:

Through a ballot initiative in the Nov 2020 election, South Dakota legalized marijuana for adults age 21 and older. However, many non-violent offenses remain criminalized.

Objective justification for stops

No Progress:

South Dakota has not yet enacted a law requiring officers to establish objective justification for making a stop (i.e. not simply for furtive movement, suspicious activity, or matching a generalized description). In Pierre, for instance, the definition of "public nuisance" is so large as to give police a reason to stop civilians for anything possibly threatening.

Reporting stop details

Some Progress:

The Highway Patrol is required to record a physical description of each person who is issued a citation or warning. However, they are not required to record the use of force or whether a firearm was found.


Learn about accountability and the specific issues below on the Accountability page (opens in a new window).


Reckless civil rights violation

No Progress:

South Dakota has not yet enacted a law lowering the prosecution requirement from ‘willful’ to ‘reckless’ deprivation of another’s rights.

Independent investigation

No Progress:

South Dakota has not yet enacted a law institutionalizing an independent prosecutor within the state’s Department of Justice for instances of police misconduct.

Qualified immunity

No Progress:

South Dakota has not yet enacted a law ending qualified immunity.

Reinvesting in Communities

Learn about reinvesting in communities and the specific issues below on the Reinvesting in Communities page (opens in a new window).


Mental health response

Some Progress:

Officers may apprehend anyone who they believe is in the middle of a mental health crisis and must prioritize sending the person to a mental health facility if the person has only committed a misdemeanor. Within 24 hours of a person's apprehension on the basis of a mental health crisis, the county board of mental illness must approve the transfer of someone to a mental health facility; otherwise, the person must be released. As part of its efforts to integrate telehealth services into law enforcement, Additionally, the state received a $1 million pilot funding grant in July 2020 to integrate technology, mental health specialists, and law enforcement. The pilot program provides tablets to police officers, who take them on mental health calls so that individuals in distress can video chat with a mental health professional.

Education, Housing, Community Health Resources

No Progress:

It is important to note that policing does not address the roots of social disadvantage and barriers to (economic) opportunity that often lead to crime. Nor should police be burdened with that responsibility.
Without access to quality resources in healthcare, education, and housing, our cities, neighborhoods, and families will continue to suffer. We should instead reassess the budgets of the state government and reinvest in the services that matter most.

Next Steps

No matter what, register to vote:

Contacting officials is just one piece of the puzzle we can't stop there. We need to make sure our elected officials reflect our values and support reform at every level of government. Register here:

To keep these policies at the forefront:

Keep emailing about them (if you just finished the 5 Days Challenge, keep up the schedule—set reminders in your phone to email about each issue on its specific day).

To ask for more than this:

Use our templates as a model to ask for bigger changes. Color for Change and The Movement for Black Lives both have specific policy related to a reimagined law enforcement system. If you think there are additional policies we ought to consider, send your thoughts our way.

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