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City should reimburse owners for damage

by Greg Belfrage

A Sioux Falls couple is left paying the tab after police damaged their property during an eight hour standoff in May.

The Sioux Falls Argus Leader is reporting that police broke windows and caused damage to an apartment during the apprehension of Derek Arapahoe. The building is owned by Virginia and Bob Graham.

Argus Leader: Who should pay for damages caused in standoff?

The Grahams don't know Arapahoe nor were they renting to him. Arapahoe simply hid on their property while he was attempting to elude police.

Virginia Graham says she was originally told the city would pay for the damages. Later, she learned that she would have to pay for the damages herself and seek restitution costs from Arapahoe. The Grahams have insurance, but are looking at a $2500 deductible.

Sioux Falls City Councillor Kermit Staggers says the city didn't do anything wrong, but should still pay for the damage.

Police Chief Doug Barthel disagrees. Barthel told the Argus Leader, "It's not the police department we're talking about here, it's the taxpayer," he said. "I don't think the taxpayers feel they should be liable for the damage done by a criminal."

The chief is right. Taxpayers don't like paying for damage done by criminals.

However, we pay for the damage criminals do every single day. That is a cost we we bear collectively. In other words, all of us pay taxes to fund trials, housing, medical costs, food and incarceration for criminals. We bear those costs collectively as a community.

Mayor Mike Huether has often had harsh words for those whom he feels haven't been "good neighbors". He's been tough on those who don't mow lawns or shovel sidewalks. He recently went off on those who illegally discharge their sump pumps into the sanitary sewer.

However, when it's time for Sioux Falls to be a "good neighbor" and reimburse the Grahams for their damage... the city turns its back on them.

Derek Arapahoe ought to be held responsible and should be made to pay restitution for the damage. But he should be reimbursing the city, not the Grahams.

We shouldn't expect the Grahams to bear the costs of that May standoff on their own. It was simply bad luck that Arapahoe sought refuge on their property. We ought to reimburse them for any money they've paid out of their own pockets.

That's what a "good neighbor" would do.

Greg Belfrage @belfrageshow is heard 6am-9am on KELO 1320 AM and 107.9 FM. Greg can be contacted at greg.belfrage@mwcradio.com.

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Photo credits: KELO file photo